The Cribs have been so consistent, so unrelenting, that fans could perhaps be excused for taking them for granted. After all, the 2017 Albini-engineered ’24-7 Rock Star Shit’ was their fourth Top 10 album in a row, a remarkable feat for a band whose roots extend so far into the trans-Atlantic guitar underground.
But then, for the first time in their lives, The Cribs ran aground. A prolonged severance with their management team pushed them off the road, and locked them out of the studio. Practically invisible, the band were cut off from the people who always meant the most to them – their fans.
In many ways, eighth album ‘Night Network’ – their first since the finalisation of their management divorce – is a love letter to their fans, an unrelenting series of indie rock bangers built to be heard live, loud, and in your face. Curiously, though, it opens with the coy, palatial doo-wop harmonies of ‘Goodbye’, a song that doubles as a two fingered salute to their ex-management team, and a riposte to music industry machinations.
‘Running Into You’ is the point where the album truly begins, with its shuddering chords and yearning vocals. ‘Screaming Into Suburbia’ is practically a mission statement writ anew, while ‘Never Thought I’d Feel Again’ is consumed by the release, the sheer relief they must have felt going back into the studio again.
It’s a head-long rush of supreme indie rock, unashamedly adding pop elements to their underground heroes. As the ride progresses you’ll pick out Motown stompers and slick 70s pop moves, while ‘Under The Bus Station Clock’ has a touch of soul to it. ‘In The Neon Night’ feels like a Beatles homage in place, while ‘She’s My Style’ could even be a B-side to the ‘Men’s Needs…’ era.
The sound of a band resurgent, ‘Night Network’ will have you falling in love with The Cribs all over again. Tapping into their core sounds and core values, it finds the band emerging from their legal troubles triumphant, relishing the vitality of being able to make music together, in the same room, at the same time. An invigorating experience as punk as it is poetic, it’s a fantastic ride from start to finish.
Words: Robin Murray
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