Everything The Cribs do is self-conscious. Everything.
They’re one of the most organic gatherations of musicians it’s possible to create – three brothers, two of them twins, driven by a communal love of alt-rock, punks, and rocking every scuzz-pit from here to way over there and never, ever selling out.
Yet they carry on their backs the constant fear that they are about to be exposed as fakes, like a slept-in and rotten old leather jacket.
It’s not enough for the Jarmans to be self-righteous, to do principled things, to put out good records, to have values, to develop a strong ethic as a band or to steer themselves clear of the stained fingers of commerce.
They clearly feel, as a lot of pious people do, that they have to show their working all the time, to prove to everyone and themselves that they really, really mean it.
So here, on their first compilation, a self-curated anthology taken from 10 years of hard graft (and available in 22- and 40-song versions), there are songs about writing songs (Leather Jacket Love Song), and there are songs about other people being scenesters (Hey Scenesters!, Mirror Kissers).
There’s a song, ladies and gentlemen, called Our Bovine Public, which would tell you all you need to know about being a Crib, if the title of this album hadn’t already performed that duty several times over.
It’s also the best pop song on the album by miles.
That’s not to say the rest is bad. If you like your indie rock basically quite melodic and hooky, but also half-shouted over a meandering guitar, and delivered with a bit of a scuff and a shrug, these are your guys.
And they’ve had the collaborative blessing of two alt-rock deities: Johnny Marr (extra guitars during their commercial 'peak’) and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth (the unravelled travelogue Be Safe). So, y’know, mock at your peril.
You can’t say anything they won’t have already thought of, in any case.
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