4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Ignore The Ignorant (Audio CD)
It was hard to supress a 'huh?' at news of Johnny Marr joining The Cribs. Firstly, I was under the impression he'd not long ago shacked up with Modest Mouse, but I guess that's what's known as an 'open relationship'. Second, it just looks weird, leaving The Cribs resembling one of those dinosaur rock bands with one original member who hasn't succumbed to drug abuse or other general mishap. Most importantly, surely capturing the mojo of one of Britain's all time great bands isn't as simple as parachuting in their guitarist?
Well, yes and no. Marr clearly remains a songwriting force to be reckoned with; his input here is distinct, and has resulted in a great set of songs. The punk sound that dominated previous Cribs' outings is tempered here somewhat, and as a result the thrilling, seat of the pants rush of Men's Needs, where the songs sounded like they might collapse at any moment, has been exchanged for a more carefully crafted, disciplined approach. Even the songs that clearly follow the existing 'Cribs template' like Nothing and We Were Aborted are more polished. This does highlight the melodies in a more deliberate, matter of fact way, and there's no real clutter here. Marr's jangle sits well with the Jarman's grungy riffage, complimenting rather than dominating it.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of what's here sounds like The Smiths, from the arpeggiated sweep of We Share the Same Skies to the 'Panic' like jig of Ignore the Ignorant. Of course, inviting these sort of comparisons can be less than flattering. I've always thought the Jarmans' competent lyricists, but when you're accustomed to hearing Morrissey's unmatchably dextrous wit riding Marr's rickenbacker, the Jarmans can't help but seem a little less impressive, as if Daniel Radcliffe were to stand a little too close to Robert Pattinson on the red carpet.
Overall though, you have to commend The Cribs for managing such a distinctly different, yet still largely excellent record. They've obviously set out to make a change and succeeded on their own terms, where many of their post-punk peers' 're-inventions' seem undistinguishable to the naked ear (yes I'm talking to you Franz Ferdinand).