One of the conditions The Cribs insisted on before signing with Sony Music RED for previous album, For All My Sisters, was that they got to have control of their own label, Sonic Blew. It wasn’t a vanity project to sign other bands, but a way to have complete autonomy to do what they wanted with their own music., which leads us to The Cribs’ new album, ’24-7 Rock Star Shit‘. Done in five days with Steve Albini, The Cribs have called it their more honest album to date. Honesty is a fine thing in music, but can the Jarman’s actually admit to themselves that ’24-7 Rock Star Shit‘ is up there with their best albums?
An air of understated excellence has permeated The Cribs’ back catalogue. While not quite radio-friendly enough to send them into the global musical stratosphere (not that they give two shits about it either), they could be relied upon to remain one of the last bastions of indie credibility that wouldn’t disappoint. Until now.
From the outset of ’24-7 Rock Star Shit‘ there is immediately a more gritty sound. Give Good Time is looser and more ragged and that’s not meant as a deficiency. It ticks a lot of boxes that ought to be checked and has an urgent quality. As an opener it’s a solid tune, pared-back on production compared to, say, what Ric Ocasek has done with The Cribs. The stripped-back nature of these songs doesn’t always produce the best results over an entire album.
The bass during the verses on Years Of Hate feels isolated and bare, and the whole song feels underwhelming. It’s not isolated either, with Dendrophonia feeling similarly hollow despite a snarling vocal delivery. In Your Palaces follows the template of much of the riffs and fretwork of the band’s past work, with just enough rejigging of the elements to make it one of the album’s better tracks. The Cribs don’t deviate from expected norms and expecting them to do a ‘Kid A’ is never going to happen.
There is nothing wrong with that, but somewhere there is a sound of a great album trying to escape from the self-imposed shackles. Sporadically there are songs that rise up to previous standards such as Rainbow Ridge and Broken Arrow which pack verve and punch. ’24-7 Rock Star Shit‘ will be a conundrum: it’s content will largely remain long forgotten, with the album as a whole standing out as their weakest to date.