Monday, 4 June 2012

Review: The Cribs - In the Belly of the Brazen Bull

 This rarely happens but the case of Wakefield's band of brothers The Cribs is an exception. They are pretty much the only band I found out about and held onto after hearing about them on mainstream TV!!! Personally, I always remember the episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on which frontman Ryan Jarman appeared.The entire episode is one of my highlights of watching TV. Yeah, I don't watch much TV. But after the episode, I had to find out more about the band, only to find that their light indie rock anthems are as effortlessly cool as Jarman was on NMTB, and I would say that this coolness is upheld once more on their fifth album In the Belly of the Brazen Bull.

 The last time the band appeared with 2009's Ignore the Ignorant they seemed to be climbing up higher than ever before with alternative rock legend Johnny Marr playing in their ranks and high critical acclaim, earning high places in "Album of the Year" lists from NME, Mojo and The Fly magazines. But since then, Marr has departed the group to work on solo work and the band are once again the charming trio of Jarman brothers that they were when they first emerged in 2004.
 In that sense, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull sees the group return to simpler material of simply chilled out indie rock and it's in this state of laid back ease that the songs actually grow a real impact. Perhaps it's the simplicity of songs like Glitters Like Gold and Come On, Be a No-One that removes any boundaries, resulting in a range of ecstatic life-affirming indie anthems of super-charged riffs and the echoed vocals of Ryan Jarman that gives a lot of the songs extra dusty charm.
 It's not just supper-happy indie anthems to be found though. The album is prominent in the kind of alternative rock atmospherics and delicate charm that only having a former member of The Smiths in ones band could help one sharpen up on. There's details like Jarman's constant widdling of guitar on Pure O, which being drenched in feedback really emphasizes the gritty roughness and battered beauty that true lo fi indie rock is all about. Meanwhile the spaced out Back to the Bolthole is filled with the kind of dynamic texturing and songwriting that one can just step forward and lose themselves in and even their efforts of making an acoustic ballad on I Should Have Helped emits a certain pathos.
 So, with a varying collection of high powered indie rock that constantly produces some emotional impact on listeners, The Cribs once more successfully craft a sweet alternative rock record with In the Belly of the Brazen Bull. It's kept simple once again but this attitude allows for a greater output in distorted power that carries their own sparkle. I wouldn't call it a completely essential indie rock purchase but, you wouldn't go wrong in doing so. The effortless coolness that reflects the guy that slyly told the panel of Never Mind the Buzzcocks that requiring 15 stitches ain't that funny is reflected once more.

 The Cribs' In the Belly of the Brazen Bull is out now via Wichita. The band will play at Reading and Leeds Festival on 25th-26th August.

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