Straight Outta Wakefield…
Is there a city so closely associated with one band than Wakefield and the Cribs? It’s difficult to think of one. Well, it’s difficult for me to think of one anyway, what with the monkey brain and all. I digress. The Cribs burst onto the burgeoning, shambolic indie rock scene in 2002 and gained a reputation for fierce live performances and arty, angular singles. While many of their peers have fallen by the way side (The Libertines) or ceased being relevant years ago (Kaiser Chiefs), Ryan, Gary and Ross Jarman continue to produce albums infused with passion, fury and Yorkshire grit. Seven studio albums. Hundreds of live performances. Thousands of plain, white t-shirts.
Ladies and gentlemen… The Cribs!
7. 24-7 Rock Star Shit (2017)
Key Track: In Your Palace
What They Said: “…the most aggressively raw they’ve sounded in years” – The Guardian
Despite the catchy title, 24-7 Rock Star Shit is that rarest of beasts. A forgettable Cribs album. Whilst In Your Palace is a typically brilliant Cribs single, the rest of the album is lost under a haze of feedback and sludge. The efforts of legendary producer Steve Albini lend the album a Nirvana inspired glow, particularly on tracks like Rainbow Ridge, but too much of the album is plodding Cribs-by-numbers.
6. In the Belly of the Brazen Bull (2012)
Key Track: Come on, be a No-One
What They Said: “The last record (Ignore the Ignorant), as much as I enjoyed making it at the time, is a little too clean for my taste, or what I would listen to, with this record we definitely wanted to go back to a more organic approach” – Ryan Jarman
There are some great moments on the Cribs fifth album but it is difficult not to shake the feeling that nothing here is truly inspired (apart from the genuinely brilliant Come on, be a No-One). Having said that Chi Town is a classic combination of screeching guitar and soaring chorus and Glitters Like Gold is one of the most underrated late era Cribs tracks.
On the whole I’m a fan of Brazen Bull but it is probably a couple of tracks too long.
5. For All My Sisters (2015)
Key Track: Burning for No One
What They Said: “We’ve been really excited making this record. We haven’t made one for three years. It’s reinvigorating. It’s like a clean sheet. It’s almost like a chance to make a debut album again” – Gary Jarman
If Brazen Bull seemed like a band slowing down, For All My Sisters was a much needed call to arms. An Ivory Hand sees the Cribs explore their relationship with Weezer to dazzling affect and Burning For No One was one of the best songs of 2015.
Elsewhere, Pink Snow has become a staple of the bands incendiary live shows and Different Angle recalls the band’s frantic early singles. For All My Sisters was an important record for the Cribs. An album to prove to critics that they were still at the forefront of the UK indie scene.
4. Ignore the Ignorant (2009)
Key Track: We Share the Same Skies
What They Said: “It’s become apparent they’ve now learned the knack of making a song’s empty space ring out as loud as the bits they’ve atypically filled with Gary Jarman’s West Yorks appropriation of Kurt Cobain” – NME
For me, Ignore the Ignorant stands alone as both the most underrated album that the Jarman brothers have delivered, as well as being the last truly great Cribs record. We Share the Same Skies is, quite simply, one of the best songs they have ever written.
The band’s fourth album is perhaps the one that strays furthest from their usual sound with the sprawling City of Bugs standing in contrast to Stick to Yr Guns, possibly the only Cribs track that could be described as a ‘ballad’.
The album came out at a time when the Cribs releasing another great album was just a given. People had begun to take the band for granted a little. This record is deserving of an agonising reappraisal. AND it’s absolutely smothered in Johnny Marr who had become the fourth Crib for one album only.
3. The Cribs (2004)
Key Track: You Were Always the One
What They Said: “The Cribs ain’t no MTV show about McMansions and bling, the Cribs are the modern mono-surnamed Ramones” – Fader
Straight outta Wakefield, the Cribs eponymous debut album veers between being barely listenable and touched with genius. Tracks like Another Number and You Were Always the One still ring out at live venues and indie disco’s across the country. At a time when indie music became famous for producing so many ‘landfill’ bands, the Cribs were making music that was as vital as it was unique.
The album still sounds brilliant now and works as a snapshot of a family with the world at their feet.
2. The New Fellas (2005)
Key Track: Hey Scenesters!
What They Said: “These songs will soundtrack every festival, every drunken snog and every intoxicated shimmy.” – NME
I bought The New Fellas after reading a 10/10 review in the NME, having never heard of the Cribs or their music. The idea of going to a record store to buy a physical copy of an album having read about it in a physical copy of a magazine seems awfully quaint in 2018, a testament to just how long the Cribs have been going.
I really struggled to pick a number one for this list because, while Men’s Needs takes the headlines, The New Fellas is just so fucking good. Hey Scenesters! is a song that defines that era of trilby hats and dickheads walking round in those awful Libertines jackets. For the Cribs, it was all about the music. Everything else is just details.
The New Fellas also boasts Mirror Kisses and traditional set closer The Wrong Way to Be as well You’re Gonna Lose Us, one of my all-time favourite songs. A song that, despite my having now seen the Cribs 11 times, they have never played live. If any Jarman’s are reading this. Sort it please.
1. Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever (2007)
Key Track: Men’s Needs
What They Said: “It’s really cool. I’m just proud that we made that record at that time, stepped up our game. Most bands never have a breakthrough album, and so because of that it has a special place for us, I guess.” – Ryan Jarman
The passage of time never fails to be a talking point and, sure enough, I have to mention that it is astonishing that this album is now over ten years old. When put like that, the fact that the Cribs are still touring the world and releasing acclaimed records is all the more impressive.
Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever doesn’t just contain the timeless single Men’s Needs, it also boasts the incendiary album opener Our Bovine Public, the scorching Moving Pictures and the Lee Ranaldo featuring genius of Be Safe. There isn’t a bad song in the bunch and the band’s third album perhaps also marks the moment in which they peaked.
Well, that’s it. While it would be dishonest of me not to admit that I am kind of running low on bands to write these articles about, the Cribs are an artist who have genuinely soundtracked my entire adult life and have produced as many great songs as any other band of the last fifteen years. Here’s to seven more albums, hundreds more shows and enough white t-shirts to reach to the moon and back.
To quote Ryan Jarman “I like sleeping at the minute”. You can’t argue with wisdom like that.