Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

The Cribs

(CD - Sonic Blew #COOP 812CD)

Review by AllMusic

With each album, the Cribs have gotten a little sharper and more focused, and nowhere is this clearer than on the brilliantly named Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever. For their major label debut, the band enlisted Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos as producer. It's a good match: while he doesn't impose too much of Franz's clockwork precision on the band, Kapranos reins in the Cribs' more shambling tendencies just enough. Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever kicks off with a slew of bouncy, angular songs about awkward relationships and killer crushes that sound like state-of-the-art British indie circa the late 2000s. In particular, "Our Bovine Public"'s ridiculously catchy melody and punchy drums feel like the results of an experiment to fuse together Maxïmo Park, the Futureheads, and Good Shoes in some secret lab. "Girls Like Mystery" and "I'm a Realist" (which states, bluntly, "I'm an indecisive piece of sh*t") follow suit with more witty lyrics, sweet harmonies, and rousing choruses. However, as Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever unfolds, the Cribs broaden their horizons. Their long standing love of American indie music crops up frequently: Ryan Jarman's yelping vocals evoke Weezer's Rivers Cuomo on "Moving Pictures," while jaunty, vulnerable songs about emptiness like "I've Tried Everything" and "My Life Flashed Before My Eyes" would fit right into the Strokes' discography. Elevated by a poetic rant by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, "Be Safe" sounds, in the best possible way, like some great lost alt-rock song from 1995. It's easily the best song on the album, which is kind of a shame since the Cribs (probably) can't recruit Ranaldo to be a full-time member. Fortunately, the tracks that follow it -- especially "Shoot the Poets," the pretty, slightly twangy acoustic song that closes the album -- show that the Cribs' music can't be typecast quite as easily as earlier songs suggested. Some of the Cribs' most immediate and widest-ranging music, Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever reflects a band on the brink of mainstream success. [After the Cribs regained the legal rights to their early material, the band celebrated in 2022 with deluxe reissues of their first three albums. The "definitive edition" of Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever supplements the remastered album with demos, B-sides, remixes, and previously unreleased material that is frequently more pensive than the album itself. Outbursts like the 2007 single "Don't You Wanna Be Relevant?" and "My Adolescent Dreams" aside, reflective tracks such as "It Happened So Fast (Vancouver Version)," "Tonight," and "Get Yr Hands Out My Grave" provide a welcome counterpoint to Men's brash attack. Other highlights include a full-throated cover of the Replacements' "Bastards of Young" and remixes by CSS and the Postal Service that function as entertaining throwbacks to late 2000s indie disco.]

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