Out with the old, in with the new
2020 has been one hell of a year. Its many colossal disasters have been near universal in impact, and have created countless additional obstacles for the individual lives and paths of billions of people. For legendary British indie rock group The Cribs, it was almost the end. After several tremendous legal battles and a careful pandemic-friendly rollout, the band has finally brought fans their eighth album, Night Network.
The Cribs were created by twin brothers Gary and Ryan Jarman, along with little brother Ross Jarman. The trio of brothers was originally based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, but eventually found themselves developing a worldwide following that even attracted the respect and creative mind of The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who worked with the band from 2008 to 2011.
After their most recent release (and fourth UK Top 10 debut), 24-7 Rock Star Shit, they parted ways with their management. The band had recently found out that they had lost the rights to most of their catalog as a result of back alley deals made without the group’s consent. The band was unsure that they would even continue. Despite all these difficulties, the band received help from none other than Dave Grohl. While The Cribs were opening for the Foo Fighters, Grohl heard of the struggles the band faced, and offered the use of his home studio for them to create and record new material. There, the brothers focused on managing themselves, regaining the rights to their music and of course, creating new indie rock anthems.
The Cribs chose not to dwell on their negative industry experience, letting it all go on the first track of the new record, “Goodbye.” The song starts with a fairly damning line: “Goodbye to the ones I guess we never knew at all.” The band seems to be offering a final farewell to the shady industry folks that they left behind. “Goodbye” is the brothers asserting their readiness to leave all the nonsense and toxicity behind, and start fresh. By the end of the song, there’s a palpable excitement for where this freedom will take the group musically.
Without missing a step, the band pulls out the big guns with one of the record’s big singles, “Running Into You.” The song is a perfect blend of indie power pop and garage rock, with high gain guitars leads and a super catchy falsetto hook. This track exudes energy and explosive passion throughout—there is no doubt as to why this was selected as the main single.
The Cribs have frequently been called the UK Strokes, and album highlight “Under the Bus Station Clock” showcases this similarity. The Strokes flavor in this song is undeniable, with the slightly distant vocals, layered harmonies and grooving power-punk guitar and drums clearly recalling the great work of Julian Casablancas and co.
“She’s My Style” is another peppy track with high energy front-to-back (and a lovely cowbell in the hook). The closer, “In The Neon Night,” even notes their process of growth and newfound maturity in lines like, “He can’t give me back my innocence, so I say good riddance.” The Cribs love playing with this concept of waning innocence and what it means in their own lives and immediate surroundings. The song also stands alone on this record in that it leans into an almost whimsical sound that bounces throughout the track. This is not present anywhere else on the project. As a closer, the track is functionally excellent. It complements the concepts introduced on “Goodbye” beautifully, and welcomes the many years of growing up that the band still has left.
The Cribs have left all their troubles at the front door on Night Network, and present fans with an extremely fun, peppy and punk-informed record capable of putting anyone in a great mood. The trio of brothers have stepped up, and let their brightest musicality shine in every drum fill, high gain guitar lick and mesmerizingly catchy vocal line. Pressing play on this record is a guaranteed great time, so say “Goodbye” and good riddance to troubles and indulge in a record that never slows down and keeps people wanting more and more.