In the Belly of the Brazen Bull
Aug 16, 2012 Web Exclusive
The Cribs incite very defined responses to their music. You either are a diehard supporter or you don't get it. Interestingly, no matter which camp you fall into, your take on the music is the same. The Northern England trio (who briefly expanded into a foursome at the time of Ignore the Ignorant with the joining of erstwhile Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr) started as a garage rock outfit. Raw, punk-y, and unrefined, this is both the source of adulation and derision for The Cribs. Marr brought a sheen to the group that made them sound more professional and frankly, bigger than they actually are—but not necessarily better. Once Marr left, The Cribs reverted instantly back to how they sounded before, like a band that's never going to leave their garage.
The wordily titled In the Belly of the Brazen Bull illustrates this style to the letter. In fact, it sounds like it should have been released a good 10 years before The Cribs' 2004 debut. Decidedly '90s in its sound, Belly falls somewhere between a doomed American college radio band and a one-album-only British copycat band. Even the involvement of two über-studio guys, Steve Albini (Breeders, PJ Harvey) and David Fridmann (MGMT, Mercury Rev), isn't helping Belly jumpstart out of its draggy semi-comatose state. It has helped songs such as "Come On, Be a No-One" sound like a Pixies rehash and "Back to the Bolthole" like a Dinosaur Jr. throwback. Having said that, once again, it is this very same forgettable, plodding, lo-fi characteristic that strikes the right chord with those that think The Cribs are the answer to rock 'n' roll. (www.thecribs.com)
Author rating: 2/10
Average reader rating: 7/10