Those who have been reading Treble for a while may remember my brother’s review of the Cribs’ first EP, in which he suggested that the Brit rockers change the name of their style of music from garage to “lorry-hole.” To this day, I can’t help but associate the band with the imaginary genre, though I confess I hadn’t actually heard their music until recently. With that review deeply etched into my memory, giving the band a fair chance would be difficult at best, which probably goes against the objectivity that we like to say we adhere to. That said, we don’t, and shouldn’t, like everything.
Listening to The Cribs’ New Fellas, I can’t say I dislike it, really, but there are just so many bands like them already. I have trouble finding any aspect of the band that really stands out among their contemporaries. They play catchy garage rock in the vein of The Strokes or even Franz Ferdinand to some extent, but seem a little more tied to Britpop, particularly due to the Edwyn Collins’ production credit on the album.
The Cribs do make an attempt to separate themselves from the pack by pointing fingers at the “hip” crowd in “Hey Scenesters!” : “Did you see his clothes?/Everybody said he looked like a mess, yeah.” It gets even more biting on “Martell,” as lead vocalist Ryan Jarman declares “So you hate my sunglasses?/ Well your precious Leeds is dead.” I don’t imagine that will go over well with Gang of Four or Mekons fans, but somehow I don’t see them getting into the Cribs in the first place.
The band’s incessant finger-pointing and scenester-trashing is only charming for so long, until it actually starts getting kind of sad. Methinks the Jarman brothers might have some self-esteem problems. I, personally, can’t help but agree with them to some degree, but when your muse is resentment, the resulting art has a way of being a little disappointing. They know their way around a hook, I’ll give them that. But even with their snappy tunes, Collins did little to make the album “pop.” All of the songs seem a little dry, as if something is missing from the finished product.
The Cribs may be on to something eventually. There is some talent there. But they need to get over being playerhaters and they really need to spice up their sound a little. While the Strokes-Weezer-Supergrass sound ain’t bad, it’s still just an underwhelming rehash of those three bands’ work. Maybe next time, fellas.
The Strokes – Is This It
Supergrass – I Should Coco
Weezer – Weezer (Green Album)
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.