25 Mar 2015

The Cribs: top 25 songs

For All My Sisters, The Cribs first album in 3 years and their 6th LP ever came out yesterday, and it's, well, perfect. The Cribs, through six brilliant albums are one of the few bands who've been so consistent over the past 10 or 15 years, so here, on the eve of the release of All My Sisters, I compiled a list of the best 10 Cribs songs. So here they are, in descending order, the greatest 10 songs by the indomitable Wakefield trio.

1. BE SAFE (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
Men's Needs... is The Cribs perfect pop album; but they're The Cribs, they couldn't just release an album with 12 indie-rock pop tunes, nope. This six minute work of brilliance features the monologue of Lee Ranaldo, Sonic Youth guitarist, making this into an almost unique (I can't think of anything to rival it other than the Dead Kennedys' Kinky Sex... and Kurt Cobain/William Burroughs' The Priest They Called Him) fusion of spoken word and alternative rock. Ranaldo's monologue is absolutely cutting; if you're hearing them for the first time they'll send a shiver down your spine, and they're amongst the more poignant introspective lyrics of the past ten years; "One of those fucking awful black days when nothing is pleasing and everything that happens is an excuse for anger" his deadpan dullset tone begins, cutting through you like a dagger. "These are the days when I hate the world hate the rich, hate the happy, hate the complacent, the TV watchers, the beer drinkers, the satisfied ones", he continues through as the song escalates, the misery completely incessant.But to match that, it has the huge chorus that makes The Cribs' songs such brilliant pop songs. Wait no, it's even greater, maybe the greatest; Ryan Jarman belts out 'I KNOW A PLACE WE CAN GO WHERE YOU'LL FALL IN LOVE SO HARD THAT YOU'LL WISH YOU WERE DEAD', getting more furious and more intense each time. Be Safe is a complete modern masterpiece, and a live favourite too. Every. Single. Listen. It's absolutely flawless, but maybe the bit that gets me every time is the conversation you catch at the very end as the feedback bleeds out; Gary goes "that were great by me", and his brother Ryan can only reply with "mine were alright, not m'best one, but 'o cares?", and with that The Cribs greatest song finishes, the members way too modest to know that what they've just sang was a work of brilliance.

2. MIRROR KISSERS (from The New Fellas, 2005)
In 2005, the indie rock scene was as close to the middle of the road as it's possible to ever be; it's as Razorlight and The Kaiser Chiefs were guided to mediocrity by a gigantic spirit level. So essentially, the New Fellas album is a punk rock album that completely kicks against all the scenesters and posers, and is probably their most venomous album to date. Mirror Kissers is the number one cut from it, an absolute explosion of Johnny Ramone guitars, and a scintillating bassline with vocals to match, which come mainly from Gary Jarman here. Rallying cries against the 'hipster type' are narcotically venomous, and as a song on the whole, it's guaranteed to increase your heart rate a sizeable amount.

3. MEN'S NEEDS (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
Another cut from their 2007 album to which this is one of the title tracks, Men's Needs is all about that riff. It's explosive, vibrant, and above all, frontman Ryan Jarman manages to belt the lyrics out off key whilst riffing away. If only I could transcribe this fucking riff man, you'd understand how great it is, but then again, if you're reading this post you'll have almost definitely played it to death. But as well as that, a dissonant chorus is grand, and Jarman gives it large with lyrics that actively condemn #lad culture. It probably won't surprise you to find out that it's The Cribs most commercially successful song, actually charting at #17, which is pretty cool in itself.

4. PINK SNOW (from All My Sisters, 2015)
From their new album, Pink Snow is the masterpiece closing proceedings in the most magnificent way. At almost 8 minutes it's The Cribs longest song, and it's composed perfectly. A forlorn guitar line builds, builds, and builds, until Jarman's vocals build into a roar, and the whole thing explodes into a woozy, transcendent chorus. It's incessant, it's climatic, and it's a modern day masterpiece that shows that The Cribs will never not have the power to wow.

5. CITY OF BUGS (from Ignore The Ignorant, 2009)
If the band ever did release an album that was subpar, and I've not decided whether they have or not yet, it's their fourth; Ignore The Ignorant. That's because it's all a bit samey, the singles are mediocre, and, overall, the line-up was breached and The Cribs were no longer a power trio, for this is the album they made with Johnny Marr. But one great thing to come from that was this; the band's set closer even today, this transcendent 6 minute masterpiece. Ryan Jarman's voice is at it's absolute coolest as he sings over fairly chilled out verses, and it's even cooler still as he raucously erupts over the climaxing chorus. Big statement here, but I think bar maybe The Queen Is Dead and Panic, this is the greatest song Marr has ever played on, it's a stunning stadium filler that sounds genius even now.

6. BACK TO THE BOLTHOLE (from In The Belly of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
I think at one point Ryan Jarman said this is his favourite of the songs he's written, and it's easy to see why. It's such a passionate number, and it sees heavy guitars drowned out by piercing vocals. I think the lyrics are bitter breakup lyrics, after Jarman's split with longterm girlfriend Kate Nash, as the heaviness is complimented by forlorn lyrics in quiet places, with sighing guitars. I think it sees Ryan Jarman at his most passionate, and it shows off that despite maybe not having a conventially great voice, he's an incredible talent.

7. THE WRONG WAY TO BE (from The New Fellas, 2005)
Another number from The New Fellas about the contemporary scene, this is a Wakefieldian battle cry against all the hipsters and the scenesters and whatnot. It's probably the most ambitious song on the album, it's broken up by football-y chants by bassist Gary, and driven on by semi-spoken Ryan Jarman vocals, with a scratchy guitar bit that just builds up and up and up. Maybe not the most obvious choice from their 2005 albumto be labelled as this, but this, my friends, is a banger.

8. ANOTHER NUMBER (from The Cribs, 2004)
The whole of the band's debut is maybe less brimming with the live energy that is contained by their second record, which followed 15 months later, but from that record came perhaps the band's best loved song. If you've ever been to a Cribs gig, you'll know that; the way that the crowd erupts every time they play it is obvious enough, but the "BA BA DA DA BA BA DA" of the riff is always, always, always chanted by fans before, after and during the gigs, and it's pretty powerful. As well as a riff that is maybe the early noughties' deepest burrowing earworm, it also gives you a taste of the Jarman falsetto, which is a treat for anyone really.

9. DON'T YOU WANNA BE RELEVANT (double A-side single w/ Our Bovine Public, 2007)
Classic Cribs, I think this one's maybe where Ross Jarman's fantastic drumming is at it's best, harrying this punk number on and on. It's the b-side/double a-side to Bovine, and like that, it's one huge FUCK YOU to the Pigeon Detectives, and other lad-ish bands of that ilk, and as you'd expect, it does it with an absolute venom that really reflects a CBGB's punk influence they had at that time. This is probably the best Cribs non-album track, and it's absolutely fantastic, as well as giving a subtle heads up to the band's own best commercial success.

10. OUR BOVINE PUBLIC (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
HEY! It's the other part of that double A-side that is literally one huge fuck you to the Pigeon Detectives. Why did The Cribs resent the PDs so much? Well, I'm 90% sure it stems from the wet t-shirt contests they held on stage at this point (ewww), as well as the fact their Cribs-influence, and Cribs-covers achieved them a decent amount of fame. Just like Don't You Wanna Be Relevant? dismisses them with a cynical "yr onstage antics out in leeds/were tailor-made to suit men’s needs", on this Jarman roars with "you'd never exist if you wasn't generic" to put the band (and other similar bands) right down. This track's musically brilliant too, like The Teardrop Explodes' Passionate Friend, the vocals, the drums, the guitars, they all explode into life at once, in a furious frenzy.

The best of the rest

11. HEY SCENESTERS (from The New Fellas, 2005)
This pulse-racing punk song is pure Johnny Thunders, and an injection of pure energy. It, as a song, was also the reason that Johnny Marr, for better or worse, joined the band for a bit.

12. COME ON, BE A NO ONE (from in The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
An anthemic pop song that sees The Cribs singing something that would fill stadiums and top charts at the helm of someone else. Note this is maybe Jarman's best pronunctiation of 'you' - "for youuuuu-way-ayyyyyy".

13. YOU'RE GONNA LOSE US (non-album single, 2006)
The Cribs are brilliant at parodying lad culture, and this, a bridging single between New Fellas and Men's Needs... - "WHEN I'M DRUNK AND BEIN' AN ASSHOLE, THAT DON'T MEAN 'AV' GOT NO CLASS THOUGH".

14. SUMMER OF CHANCES (from For All My Sisters, 2015)
Maybe the second best cut from the new record, a simplistic verse is blown away by the chants of "nature versus nurture, which one is the stronger?"

15. CHI-TOWN (from In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
A screech of feedback begins this explosive number, and BAM! Fairly generic rhyming couplets are punctuated by raucous production make it a brilliant lose-your-shit number, but the best thing about it is that it led to THIS. (click the link. it'll change your life)

16. ADVICE FOR A ROVING ARTIST (b-side to You're Gonna Lose Us, 2006)
An indie rock meets spoken word collab between the band and friend Jon Slade, the title says it all really, a proper good DIY track here.

17. SHOOT THE POETS (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
A gorgeous semi-acoustic number that closes the band's third album, Jarman also rolls off the brilliant couple 'cut your losses, shoot the poets'.

18. I'M ALRIGHT ME (from The New Fellas, 2005)

19. DIFFERENT ANGLE (from For All My Sisters, 2015)
Complete with ooh-ooh-oohs, this is an 80's inspired pop song that's completely and utterly perfect, this is the song from their new album that captures their pop influence in the nicest way.

20. HARI KARI (from Ignore The Ignorant, 2009)
The catchiest (probably) song in their whole discography, Hari Kari is a fucking banger that (I think) enforces some of the underlying feminist principles of the band, as it advocates the pro-choice movement.

21. ON A HOTEL WALL (b-side to Glitters Like Gold, 2012)
This chug-a-long b-side is an unusually scratchy Cribs number, and sees Ryan and Gary swapping instruments - hence that bassline that just wants to be heard.
22. MAJOR'S TITLING VICTORY (from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, 2007)
The angriest punk song on their poppiest album, the name was born out of the label's decision not to release a song called purely 'MTV', it features Ryan Jarman's raucous screams as he tears the ex-music TV channel,

23. BABY DON'T SWEAT (from The Cribs, 2004)
Some garage-y riffing, Baby Don't Sweat is the point at which The early Cribs begun to find their feet. It definitely has an undeniably cool rhythm to it, that alongside lo fi vocals, sounds remarkably like the last Parquet Courts album.

24. I SHOULD HAVE HELPED (from In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull, 2012)
A heartbreaking acoustic number from their fifth album, this was something Ryan put together after hearing a fan he met outside the corn exchange had commited suicide. It's a simple, but beautiful elegy.

25. YOU & I (from The Cribs, 2004)
Glorious, underrated and lo-fi, this pop song is a beautifully simplistic love song, that features basic, basic lyrics and a real C86 sound.

HEY HEY, that's that over, if you agreed, or disagreed it'd be cool to hear some feedback, and if this just whet your appetite for more Cribs, I made this list into a playlist.

(written by calum cashin)