It is hard to believe that The Cribs celebrated 10 years in the music business last year. The voice of anti-establishment-punks-at-heart are, albeit belatedly, marking this milestone with a compilation of 22 singles, ‘Payola’.
We at Goldenplec thought this album would present the opportunity not just to review the songs, but to look back at this band’s career as a whole. Looking back to 2004, You Were Always The One from the band’s début self-titled album is simplistic, musically and lyrically speaking. That being said we can already hear the foundations of The Cribs’ patented sinuey guitar-sounds and chanting vocals.
The momentum and the societal bitterness builds as you listen to more recent positions. Take the song that launched them out of obscurity, Hey Scenesters! (2005). This song takes a stab at the image-obsessed members and hangers-on in the so-called “indie scene”. Of course a collection of singles by this band would be shamed if it did not include the band’s most widely loved tracks. Among these are Men’s Needs (2007), their most commercially successful single, which set the band apart from the majority of bands that were around at the time, image and ethos wise. I’m a Realist also falls into this category; a forceful and common-sense song which takes yet another swipe at those that try too hard.
These two singles in particular mark the point at which The Cribs reached out to a wider audience, including the legendary Johnny Marr of The Smiths who later joined the band in 2008. Marr joined the Jarman brothers as a fully fledged member to record ‘Ignore the Ignorant’; an album title which corresponded with The Cribs’ image of bearing an intolerance towards the narrow-minded. Singles from this period that feature on ‘Payola’ include the infectious Cheat on Me; a wailing and aggressive number which no doubt gives us an insight into Ryan Jarman’s troubled mind at the time.
The band’s most recent album is not neglected, thankfully. Their first post-Marr album ‘In the Belly of the Brazen Bull’ was critically acclaimed and yet it maintained an underground status. The incredibly Come on, be a no-one is somewhat of a modern anthem which emphatically urges listeners to dare to be ‘ordinary’. Featured also on the album is a new, specially produced track which dares not tear away from the sound and the themes this band have so consistently followed. Leather Jacket Love Song, in fact, takes us back to the love struck feelings of You were always the one, “Ten years on…”.
This is an insightful collection of singles which delightfully portrays a fruitless yet appropriately veiled career of a band that has no desire to reach number 1 or garner a trendy following. One thing that glows through this album is that, despite a large assumption by many, the Marr years were not the ones that defined them. This band refined their sound in their very early days and they have habitually maintained a solid and approachable image. The punk-lite ethics shining through the lyrics, the familiar guitar feedback and twang; all from a band which can arguably be labelled as one of the greatest and modest underrated of the century so far.