Yet another buzzing guitar band tosses heavy narrative around an album made for the charts but never escapes the garage. Reaching for hooks and never quite catching them, The Cribs deflate the pseudo-punk sound of the last few years into an amorphous, and altogether boring, blob of raw guitars, semi-danceable beats, and uninspired vocals.
The dancefloor-ready, alt-garage sound that we’ve grown so accustomed to lately is done no justice here. Stuck in a post-Weezer meltdown and Arctic Monkeys haze, The Cribs struggle to make much in the way of a focused sound. “Men’s Needs” somewhat hints at a teen prom boogie, but that’s as close as it comes to being dance-worthy. Among the cutter tracks of the second half of the album, only a couple stand out – for better or worse. “Be Safe” is a muddled spoken-word emo anthem and “Shoot the Poets” is lackluster acoustic change-up to finish the album.
Despite being so narrative, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever lacks any real substance lyrically. The awkward call-out on “Our Bovine Public” goes “You’d never exist if you wasn’t generic”, which is all too ironic. Song titles like “Girls Like Mystery” and “Moving Pictures” seep a painfully young lack of expression.
Don’t let the band’s connection to Franz Ferdinand fool you. Alex Kapranos’ production merely shines the gem, which may have cost a diamond’s pricetag to the label, but is really a very flawed, discolored fake. Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever is just a major label dud, fit for an occasional teen radio slot somewhere between emo-rock and Beyonce.