Recorded in Dave Grohl’s studio, The Cribs’ first self-produced album, Night Network, shows the Wakefield boys still have so much to give.
After The Cribs 2017 album 24-7 Rock Star Shit, the Jarman brothers found themselves in unknown territory. Having parted with their long-term management leading to a period of not being able to record or release new music due to contract obligations, we’ve experienced a few ‘Cribless’ years. But time heals all wounds (and I’m guessing legal issues now being sorted) meaning the release of The Crib’s first self-produced record in Night Network. After a chat with the ultimate touring buddy in Dave Grohl, the band headed out to LA to put together the album – a new start for the band but still rocking that beautiful indie-pop fuzziness we all know and love.
Album opener Goodbye Starts in unusual Cribs fashion with a slow and sultry pace, haunting layered vocals, and an ethereal atmosphere. It’s not the usual big stomping opener but does make perfect sense, fitting in with their current mindset and saying ‘so long’ to their old ways, welcoming in the new, self-producing Cribs, brothers in arms. Business then resumes as usual with lead single Running Into You, throwing away the shackles and back to their instantly recognisable indie-pop sound of brash guitars, pretty vocals, and an unbelievably catchy chorus.
The classic Cribs sound is a stalwart throughout the record for those of you worried about a complete change, but still feels as if they have a bit more freedom to try new things, which they do. Never Thought I’d Feel Again shows off this newfound liberation with a Motown stomp against beautiful harmonies and handclaps bringing out a tinge of Beatles-era pop.
We also finally get a well-sought after second collaboration between The Cribs and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Fans have been after this for years since spoken-word track Be Safe, and once again, they’re in for a treat. Called I Don’t Know Who I Am, this time Ranaldo doesn’t get to stretch his poetic muscles, instead providing layers of roaring white-noise guitar to thicken out the track’s duplicity and also joining in on backing vocal duties later on. Just like Be Safe, the track builds in mesmerising fashion with a beautiful malice that intertwines to create something truly special.
In true Cribs fashion, the record has a tremendous amount of anthems that will seep into your brain and refuse to leave, often featuring lyrics that help bring them out of their shell. She’s My Style rides a wave of Cribs nostalgia with guitar riffs wandering around as Ryan Jarman sings of relationships, candid chit-chat, and being a boy from a band: “Gotta keep it clean but you know it’s not my style.” The Weather Speaks Your Name continues the pop-laden raucousness with fuzzy guitars providing the energy against a ballady undercarriage, leading to a settled but powerful chorus. Ending on The Neon Night, we’re once again reminded of that Motown melody, this time riddled with a Small Faces ‘knees up’ attitude but still distinctly Cribs-esque in rawness and attitude.
For The Cribs’ first self-produced album, Night Network is a complete triumph. The band we all know and love are there, but with it, they’ve brought an added swagger and creative beauty that we haven’t seen in a while. The Jarman brothers are having fun. They might be living miles apart but when they get back together, the chemistry and will are still there to create great, indie-pop music.