The Cribs

The Cribs

(CD - Sonic Blew #COOP 810CD)

Review by Heather Phares

Swinging between concise guitar pop and rangier, noisier experiments, the Cribs' self-titled 2004 debut album contains all the potential they'd develop with different collaborators over the years to come. The band recorded with engineer Ed Deegan at London's Toe Rag studio -- famed for its vintage analog gear as well as clients like the White Stripes, the Kills, and Television Personalities -- and The Cribs presents the Jarman brothers' music at its most indie. This feeling is reinforced by the album's off-kilter bookends: "The Watch Trick"'s shuffling waltz starts things on a mischievous note, while the stomping, sprawling "Third Outing" provides a wild-eyed finale. In between these songs, however, the Cribs show they're not afraid of grand pop gestures. With its big hooks and harmonies, the U.K. Indie Top Ten hit "You Were Always the One" could almost pass for a forgotten British Invasion classic; the album's other hit single, "What About Me," provided the template for the band's shout-along choruses. Moments like these make it easy to hear why the Cribs were a breath of fresh air when they arrived in the early 2000s. Though their songs were as catchy as the work of the Libertines or the Strokes, the Jarmans' down-to-earth, wryly funny, and often poignant songwriting set them apart; it's hard to imagine either of the aforementioned bands penning a lyric like "You were drunk and unbelievably cool/You won't find a friend who knows you like I do" from "Things You Should Be Knowing." Feeling ordinary and forgotten makes "Another Number" one of the album's standouts, while its spiky guitars and plunking basslines reflect the Cribs' love of American indie music (which also surfaces on the tricky tempo shifts of "Baby Don't Sweat" and Sonic Youth-y guitar horseplay of "Learning How to Fight"). The Cribs is a great introduction to the band's brash and tuneful sides, and also shows that though they later worked with producers ranging from Edwyn Collins to Steve Albini, they've always been the architects of their own sound. [After the Cribs regained the rights to their early material, the band celebrated in 2022 with deluxe reissues of their first three albums. The "definitive edition" of The Cribs supplements the remastered album with demos, rarities, and previously unreleased material, all of which reaffirm that the Jarman brothers had the broad strokes of their music well established. The surplus of tunes the band turned out while making The Cribs is especially apparent in the set's demos: "Feelin' It!" and "Fevers and Seizures" represent the Cribs' lanky, noisy rock admirably, while "On the Floor" and "Song from Practice 1" foreshadow the moodier approach they'd take years later (and all of these songs rival the quality of the material that actually appeared on the album). Rounded out by their sessions with Bobby Conn and extras like an endearingly shambling cover of the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?," this version of The Cribs offers plenty of goodies for diehard fans.]

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Cribs 02:36 Amazon
2 The Cribs 03:45 Amazon
3 The Cribs 04:02 Amazon
4 The Cribs 02:58 Amazon
5 The Cribs 03:07 Amazon
6 The Cribs 02:58 Amazon
7 The Cribs 03:42 Amazon
8 The Cribs 03:08 Amazon
9 The Cribs 04:26 Amazon
10 The Cribs 02:55 Amazon
11 The Cribs 03:05 Amazon
12 The Cribs 03:32 Amazon
13 The Cribs 02:40 Amazon
14 The Cribs 03:50 Amazon
15 The Cribs 02:24 Amazon
16 The Cribs 04:10 Amazon
17 The Cribs 02:54 Amazon
18 The Cribs 03:02 Amazon
19 The Cribs 02:14 Amazon
20 The Cribs 02:26 Amazon
21 The Cribs 03:09 Amazon
22 The Cribs 03:55 Amazon
23 The Cribs 04:05 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick