August 3, 2012

The Cribs - In The Belly of the Brazen Bull

Boy, it’s been a while. I don’t know what struck me, but apparently I can’t write shit. I managed to finish an article that I’ve started working on ages ago, then I decided to move on to more pretentious projects, like those three highly-anticipated tribute articles that I have no freaking idea when I’m gonna finish. I should’ve listened to Chester and never posted that announcement; now I feel like George R.R. Martin with his annoyingly numerous delays.  I’m going to use the same excuse like the master himself and inform you that I’m a very, very, very slow writer. In fact, it took me about 10 minutes to write this paragraph that’s basically about absolutely nothing. Oh well.

So, review, ‘cause that’s why we’re here, right? Bear in mind that for the last few months I’ve been writing nothing but hip-hop reviews, so my pretentious indie-analyzing skills have gotten a little rusty.
This is a pretty special review because this one particular band that I wasn’t very into before surprised the hell out of me.  After long deliberations,  I have decided to call it the reverse-bully effect ; when one supposedly mediocre band that gets  undeserved amount of shit for many years, after which they release an album so good that their entire criminal record is erased and the whole damn critic community starts sucking their dick with a speed and agility equaled only by those vampires from True Blood. 

I just felt an urge to include a True Blood reference in my article.

 And it happened to The Cribs, too. Ah, never heard of them? I’m not surprised. It’s ok, that’s why I’m here, to enlighten the common folk.   Not wanting to bore you with a long history of the band, I’m just gonna throw a few important facts and then move on to the actual review:  the lineup consists of brothers Ryan (lead vocals/guitar), Gary (bass) and Ross Jarman (drums),  Ryan banged Kate Nash for a few years, and Johnny Marr (The Smiths) joined the party for a short period of time, and because reasons, he left.  Oh, and Ryan has an eating disorder. And that’s enough inside info for one article because I’m not running a freaking tabloid. 

If this isn't an unfortunate career shift then nothing is.

After four unnoticed records, they released their fifth album, In The Belly of the Brazen Bull on the fifth month of the fifth decade of this century (ok, I got carried away), more commonly known as the year 2012. I don’t know if the title is some deep metaphor of something that happed to someone from some band, but I don’t care, it sounds cool, even though it could be described as making the exact opposite of sense.  

Generally speaking, it’s a very Pixiesque album. Everything about it resembles late 80’s and early 90’s alternative rock, from the beautifully distorted, but weirdly melodic sounding guitars, well-paced drumming and Ryan’s mellow vocal delivery, combined with his nasal voice. In a time where everybody tries to imitate or bring a tribute to some obscure band from the 60’s and 70’s, it’s nice to see that there are a few people out there who are well aware of the fact that music continued to evolve beyond that period of time. 

The album opens, oddly enough, with Glitters like Gold, a tasty riff-driven track with a heartwarming chorus that I find to be the perfect start to an album that screams of  a ‘’Fuck you, we’ve been doing our own thing and will continue to do so’’ attitude.  ‘Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast is some sort of anti-stadium-anthem; it’s equally bombastic, aggressive, it builds up to a supposedly epic chorus, but that point being reached, it lets you down. And you know what? I love it, just  for that. Fuck those pretentious false stadium anthems, and fuck the ones who compose them just to have a slight chance of performing them in front of a bunch of fucktarded people who are stupid enough to waste their money and encourage that shit music (yes Muse, I’m looking at you). Ahem.


Further on, In The Belly of The Brazen Bull explores a wide variety of themes and experiments with different sounds and styles.  While Jaded Youth is has a Smashing Pumpkins touch to it, Back To The Bolthole is a depressive song about… I don’t know, it’s just sad, like, that angry, ferocious kind of sad only Alice In Chains with their debut album could pull.  Come on Be a No-One is probably the most straight-forward tribute to the The Pixies in particular and 90’s alternative rock in general because it sounds NOTHING like the other songs that, while reminiscing the Pixies, they’re still a tad experimental.  I might be incoherent here, but it’s that kind of stuff you only acknowledge at a subconscious level and can’t express in words.  Anna, thankfully (?) is not so cerebral – just heartwarming love song that benefits from Ryan’s talent as a singer/songwriter, which separates it from your typical, bland love song. Still, being a biased fuck, I couldn’t resist picking a favorite, which is Chi-Town.  It’s punkish, fast, uplifting track that I adored the instant I hit play.  Amen. 

In The Belly of the Brazen Bull is a summation of everything that Cribs is about – a sadly misunderstood band that, despite the odds, followed their passion and never took shit from anyone.  Fortunately, it’s not a happy ending to a sad story, but an interlude to a story that is yet to be done.

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