Review : The Crib - IIn the Belly of the Brazen Bull
PitchforkIn the rare event you catch someone mourning the slow death of major labels, it's usually due to its presumed effect on the "career artist"-- the Springsteen, the Dylan, the Neil Young, slow starters who'd never have fulfilled their destiny without the proper executive patience and financial resources. And yet, for all its meat-grinder stereotypes, UK's "major indie" realm has produced Foals, Friendly Fires, the Horrors, Bombay Bicycle Club, and the Cribs as proof that you don't have to be a Hall of Famer to follow a bungled debut with a bizarre and interesting career arc these days. In 2004, the Cribs were teens cashing in on the post-Franz Ferdinand, post-post-Strokes gold rush; since then, Johnny Marr joined and then quit their band, Lee Ranaldo spit some spoken word on their third album, and Alex Kapranos, Nick Launay, and Edwyn Collins can all list "the Cribs" in their production credits. If the terms "Louis XIV" or "the Dead 60s" mean anything to you, you'll admit that's a pretty good return on an investment all things considered.
On their fifth LP, the group's plural-noun band name is about the only remnant of the Cribs mid-2000s roots: In the Belly of the Brazen Bull goes full-blown Buzz Bin. Hey, sometimes Brits have a good track record with this kind of thing: Yuck made one of 2011's strongest debuts and Blur decided on their fifth album they wanted to be Pavement, too. Of course, the Cribs aren't sensitive, artsy souls like those two and it actually works to the advantage of Belly; perhaps it's the result of spending their adult lives on a major's dime, but this record is fueled by a naïve belief that radio hits are achievable and can be strong-armed....full text
GuardianThe Cribs' fifth album couldn't be more 90s if it styled its hair into curtains, donned a Global Hypercolor T-shirt and bought itself a ticket to Lilith Fair. In the Belly … is a well-executed homage to lo-fi slacker rock, to the extent that it uses two producers – Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Sleater-Kinney) and Steve Albini (Nirvana, Breeders) – synonymous with that era. It suits them, particularly when they adorn the feedback and squalling riffs with singalong melody, as they do on the raucous Chi-Town. I Should Have Helped, meanwhile, is a fuzzy, K Records-style lo-fi ballad that knows its charm lies in its brevity, and Back to the Bolthole is an impressively heavy sludgeathon – but it's all a little too faithful to its template to be truly arresting....full text
IndependentHopes for the fifth Cribs album were cautiously high, following the ragged nihilism of lead single "Come on, Be a No One".
However, one listen to In the Belly... shows that to be merely a flash in the chip-pan. The Mazola-haired Jarman twins, with Johnny Marr no longer on board, are still churning out mid-afternoon festival fodder – everything's turned up to 11 but content is absolute zero. If the Cribs were any more landfill, they'd have seagulls following them around....full text
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