The Cribs – [Album]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

At a certain point in temporal continuity, some theorists maintain that it's entirely possible for the lines between different, autonomous entities to dissolve at a certain distance. In the case of hip hop, for example, it has been surmised that, because the genre has been functioning for over a quarter century and has grown so much in that time, it's feasible that some fans have been exposed exclusively to it; they were born on hip hop, raised on it and, unless they voluntarily go out of their way to broaden their horizons, some fans will go to their graves knowing only that music decades from now. It's an interesting theory, but it's even more likely to happen with a music and people with a richer history. Take Brit-pop for example – while the music's history goes back further than this, if we started at The Beatles and talked about pop on the British Isles, we'd be talking about a half a century of music including every institution from The Rolling Stones to New Order to David Bowie to the Sex Pistols to The Smiths to The Stone Roses to Blur to Oasis to The Vaselines to Radiohead and so on into a whole directory of greats – to say nothing of the multitude that didn't cast such a long shadow. It's a directory of classicism, movements and traditions, but what would happen if all those institutions lost every boundary the names imply and they simply became a shuffle on someone's iPod? In that context, the unfamiliar could simply begin mashing ideas together and come up with all new expressions on the basis of a whole other kind of inspiration.

It's an attractive, interesting theory, and one that gets a little more credence as The Cribs' Ignore The Ignorant plays through; with a very focused sound, not a single song in the album's dozen doesn't grab a listener's attention but, every time, it's for a different reason.

The journey begins with the ironically entitled “We Were Aborted” that finds singer Ryan Jarman intermingling the confrontational spirit of older Manic Street Preachers and the pop savvy spitting of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me-era Robert Smith before making a hard left onto ground that it could be safely said was the province of Dave Gahan and Joe Strummer.

Can't envision the first set of styles crossing, let alone transitioning to the other combination? Listen for yourself – you'll be a believer. How does the music that comes along with it change? In truth, the alterations are only slight – but in the case of The Cribs and the chameleonic changes they're undergoing on a track-by-track basis on Ignore The Ignorant, the smallest alterations can make all the difference – that's certainly what they do here.

Those figurative costume changes between songs are the things that will keep listeners glued to their headphones – because at no point is there a trip or stumble in Jarman's voice. The breadth of ground that the singer covers here is absolutely flabbergasting (the John Lydon/Morrissey conglomerate in “Hari Kari” is a personal favorite) and that Ross and Gary Jarman – along with Smiths guitarist/Cribs transplant Johnny Marr are able to contain such a performance into anything that resembles a consistent sound is nothing short of The Cribs' crowning achievement. As each track registers, Marr and Jarman combine squirrelly guitar lines that intermingle post-punk and garage affinities (Marr's best since the glory days of The Smiths) but do it as effortlessly and naturally as one typically performs an involuntary movement; like breathing, it feels right and the shapes are both constant and consistent.

Now, there will undoubtedly be nay-sayers who will scream that the singer's regular alterations of style and timbre are the sure mark of insecurity and equates to a weak performance overall. They'll whine that the inconsistencies in the singer's vocal delivery make for an insular performance because listeners won't be able to latch onto or be guided through the proceedings by anything on Ignore The Ignorant. Interested parties confused by the designs in place on this album would be well-served to study the title  of it an realize that it is directed at them. What The Cribs are attempting on Ignore The Ignorant is the most difficult possible enactment of universality; they're attempting to be everything at once – and succeeding. It'll be interesting to see if they settle somewhere or continue their chameleonic excursions on future releases.



The Cribs – “Cheat On Me” – Ignore The Ignorant


Ignore The Ignoran
t is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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