Once upon a time, The Cribs were lauded by their native British press, and worked with great veterans like Lee Renaldo of Sonic Youth (QRO live review) and Johnny Marr of The Smiths. They were also incredibly overrated, hitting a nadir of electro-sharp rock and juvenile lyrics with 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever (QRO review). Things picked up in terms of quality when Marr officially joined the band for 2009’s Ignore the Ignorant (QRO review), but that was still an at-times grating record. But post-Marr, the ‘original’ Cribs have evolved into a decent, even more than decent garage-pop/rock band with In the Belly of the Brazen Bull.
Other than “Stalagmites” (the weakest song on the album), gone are the electro-sharp sounds that marred The Cribs’ earlier days. Instead, Bull has some consistently decent garage-pop/rock that occasionally verges on something more. Starting with opener “Glitters Like Gold”, Bull is an enjoyable record, even if it never challenges you. The group is best when they’re at their most rollicking (also true live – QRO live review), such as on single “Come On, Be a No-One” and especially the fun “Chi-Town”. They can even do sadder, best with the carrying loss of “Uptight”, acoustic (“I Should Have Helped”), and garage-love with the final trio “Life a Gift Giver”, “Butterflies”, and “Arena Rock Encore with Full Cast”.
The last three tracks on Bull do kind of run together, and the record is likewise one that kind of blends together into something that you’re probably heard before, likely heard better, certainly have heard worse, but do enjoy. The Cribs may not revolutionize the world, but at least now they deserve to be here.
MP3 Stream: “Chi-Town“