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Glitters Like Gold? You bet!
on 22 May 2012
When Johnny left last April I was sad to hear it. I had enjoyed Ryan and Johnny's 'duel guitaring' immensely on Ignore The Ignorant. Still, the possibility of the next album being a heavier, raw LP excited me. I began to worry though, that perhaps Johnny's departure would put an end to the sophisticated style that had made ITI so enjoyable for me. Boy was I wrong.
The album starts with feedback, then boom! Glitters Like Gold begins with the kind of bombastic energy that could make J Mascis blush, a grunge epic of a tune with a regretful Gary singing of spending his 'splendor long ago'. Lead single Come On, Be A No-One follows with Ryan's haunting voice and guitar. One only has to compare Ryan now to how he looked just 2 years ago to see that it has not been an easy time. This song and the next, Jaded Youth really emphasise that being 'lost and found, loved and lost' may have drained him but these songs are his strongest yet.
Anna, Confident Men and Uptight showcase Gary's knack of writing fabulous pop hooks whilst Ross shines with some really impressive drumming. Chi-Town (as far as I'm aware, the only of the first 10 songs to feature Steve Albini's production rather than Dave Fridmann) is an exemplary return to the punky harshness that won The Cribs their fanbase with the first 3 records. Pure O is a lesson in how to decorate a song to perfection. Back To The Bolthole, with the subject matter dealing with the realisation of death, is a strangely uplifting song that you can expect to be a fistpumping slowdance for the crowd at gigs. File it under: EPIC. We are then brought to I Should Have Helped. Possibly The Cribs at their most delicate. Fingerpicked guitars and gently played strings compliment Gary's voice nicely. Had the album ended here I would have been satisfied.
It doesn't end there however, and thank goodness. The last four tracks, self-produced by the band at Abbey Road, are a medley that makes one 12 minute stunner. Kicking off with Stalagmites, a winding track with military drums that ends with a reprise of the 'lost and found' section of Jaded Youth, leading in to Like A Gift Giver. This song is the shortest on the album but is a melodically brilliant. Then Butterflies, which floats as pleasantly as the title suggests, with Ryan making guitar noises that Johnny Marr himself would be proud of. Gary sings wonderful words of lost times with a friend that I think everyone can relate to as Ross revisits the military drums from Stalagmites to lead in to Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast. It really is as massive as the title suggests. The words 'Sorry that it's taken years, we were victims of our own ideals, but I'd rather be tied to myself than to anyone else.' sum this album and the band up perfectly; Independent, strong, but most of all thoughtful. And as Ryan's squealing guitar, Gary's booming bass and Ross's crashing drums fade to nothing you can't help but think if this band ever needed Johnny Marr, they don't anymore. Their best effort yet 9/10.