'Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever' sees the Cribs step up to the major league...
Tim Nelson 2007-05-18
'I’m a realist, I’m a romantic, I’m an indecisive piece of sh*t', sing the Cribs on their new album. The Cribs are three brothers from Wakefield, Yorkshire who marry literate lyrics to nagging hooks. Recorded in Vancouver with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos producing, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever sees the Cribs step up to the major league with their third album.
Johnny Marr described the three Jarman brothers (Ryan, Gary and Ross) as a combination of the Buzzcocks and Johnny Thunders, but perhaps the latter is there more for his world-weary spirit, found here in abundance. There is something of Kurt Cobain’s rasp in vocals to the chorus of the current single, “Men’s Needs.” Other obvious stand-outs include the ranting “Our Bovine Public” and the anthemic “Girls Like Mystery”, but the band’s combination of the playful and the challenging ensures that things get increasingly weird as the album goes on.
On a recent podcast, the Cribs revealed inspirations as diverse as Orange Juice and Daniel Johnston (while “Be Safe”, here, is a collaboration with Lee Ranaldo). Perhaps the most telling mention was Stephen Malkmus, formerly of Pavement. The Cribs are beguiling and bedevilling in equal measure, and it is typical that an otherwise brilliantly simple song bemoaning the short attention span of the love-deficient twenty-first century with a lyrics that repeat: 'I can’t find time for her, because of (empty) MTV' is given the cryptic title “Major’s Titling Victory.”
The production is clear and effective, marrying layers of droning, buzzing and stinging guitars to vocals that grow stronger as the album presses on, and lyrics that grow richer on repeated listening; there is a real sense of progression and no shortage of excursions into art-rock territory, but the band’s forte probably remains the catch-laden punk pop song with the short sharp stop.