10 fervent fans and writers from The Cribs Fanzine give us their thoughts on 24-7 Rock Star Shit, The Jarman Brothers' latest full-length effort, in our very special Track By Track guide to the album.
"Give Good Time" derives from the fruitful period surrounding the 2012 album In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull. Although engineered by Steve Albini during 2011 at Electrical Audio in Chicago, Illinois, The Cribs only included "Chi-Town" on the then-forthcoming LP. "Give Good Time" found inclusion within spring 2012 North American setlists, whilst a subsequent digital bootleg show recording gained prominence among fans. And then... nothing. No B-side release. No words from the band. No mention on sixth LP For All My Sisters and itinerant releases throughout 2015. Until now. Historical circumstance encouraged both excitement and expectation among their audience for this song.
Ryan provides insistent chords whilst Ross and Gary take an unyielding stance on drums and bass respectively, a platform that alternates from the verses and bridge to a less severe, but still ardent, chorus. The direct nature of "Give Good Time" allows The Cribs to amplify their frustrations through words and music, not necessarily to resolve them, but as a means of explaining the situation on a final, vital line: "Got me feeling like I was 14..."
I’m not one who normally struggles with words, however I do when it comes to The Cribs. Not because I don’t think I can’t write up a glowing report for them. I can. I could do it all day long. But I am somewhat emotionally attached to this band and I am currently gushing with pride at this new record. "Year Of Hate" fits like a glove on 24-7 Rock Star Shit. It is scuzzy and rough around the edges. It is not seeking perfection, but somehow manages to be perfect. It takes me back to my teenage years, full of angst and raging hormones. Had it been out 20 years ago it probably would have been the soundtrack to my youth. Slamming doors, storming upstairs, and blasting out something heavy to piss your parents off.
I love the ambiguity of it. Are they having a political dig? Do they know I’ve had rough times? Either way, it is a song that probably somewhere along the line everyone can relate to. Something you would probably never expect from a ‘punk’ record…
With age comes wisdom, and seven albums down, The Cribs know not to fuck with a working song writing formula. Rumours had swirled since the release of For All My Sisters, a result of a throwaway comment in an interview; of a punk album, a grunge album, and a flip side to it’s distinctly more pop predecessor. 24-7 Rock Star Shit almost feels like it was willed into existence by the fans.
An inescapable streak of pop runs through everything The Cribs do. Those moody, grungy verses explode into a huge, air-punching, shout-along chorus, noisy enough to lose your head to in the pit, grab your mates and scream it in each other’s faces. Heaven. Recorded, along with the rest of the album, in five days, it hasn’t had its raw live energy polished away, and it’s absolutely destined to be a crowd-pleasing live classic.
The origins of this song go back to before the fifth album. I’ve long awaited a release for this song, and it sounds incredible on the record. Worth the five year wait? Definitely.
Meaning 'a fear of trees', the title was possibly influenced by the surroundings in which the album was recorded. "Dendrophobia" was the most immediate of the album tracks for me, and one I’d heard about before the first play due to fellow fans speaking fondly of it - particularly the riff which is another classic
Ryan lick - so heavy and groovy it sounds like Nirvana at their absolute best.
"Fucking right British radio, has had a terrible effect on me," is a knowing wink from a song that will never get playlisted. The chorus tells of a dichotomy, whereby "we can’t afford each other, we can’t afford to give up on each other", which was an absolute joy to screech along to at the album launch show at House Of Vans, proving the song has earned its place in a growing and evolving (always excellent) Cribs setlist.
With what is perhaps my favourite song to mention a jumper since The Sultans Of Ping FC, "What Have You Done For Me?" provides the only vague dalliance with pop to be found on 24-7 Rock Star Shit. Continuing the same motifs as the rest of the album - calling out the rock and roll phoneys; restlessness with the status quo; not fitting in - "What Have You Done For Me?’" is a searing and acerbic take down of the critics and the indie rock scene.
Thematically, it harks back to the disdain of "Our Bovine Public", The New Fellas, and the impact (whether looked for or not) of The Cribs’ legacy, with a smattering of the usual provincial angst, self-deprecation, and discontent. "What Have You Done For Me?" has the potential to be anything live: more visceral, noisy and angry than on record; or, tamed to a snarling, cutting acoustic ballad. With "What Have You Done For Me?", The Cribs are less building towns on rock and roll, more razing them to the ground and walking away.
The Cribs are a band you would associate with powerful, passionate punk rock vibes delivered with a poppy vocal style full of riffs, raucous energy, and catchy choruses. However, there is another sweet, melodic side to the band captured so wonderfully in "Sticks Not Twigs". I love how dreamy and meandering this song is with the acoustic, mellow guitar harmonising with the slower, softer vocals.
Is this a love story or is this a breakup story? The best thing about Cribs lyrics is they’re open to your own interpretation and experiences. For me, it is about moving on and realising what you thought was the best thing in the world at the time would actually have been a massive mistake. Even though it hurt so much at the time, that’s okay, because I wouldn’t have found "my baby" today and have the happy loving life I do (who I’m so looking forward to marrying and spending the rest of my life with).
I know this has turned a bit soppy now (and I apologise!) but "Sticks Not Twigs" certainly brings out my soft, emotional side which not many things do.
You know Rainbow Road? The Mario Kart track that’s always the last race? The one where everything’s on the line and they removed all the barriers and now you’re a nervous wreck and you just wanna throw your controller down? Well, this isn’t that. Actually, it’s pretty much the opposite - in that it’s the kinda song that makes you want to pick up a guitar, or sing, despite not knowing the lyrics. The intro counts you in and practically draws the words "a seven year reunion" out of your mouth, summoning some sort of spirit.
Hearing "Rainbow Ridge" for the first time immediately transported me back to the mid-2000s, trawling the internet as a teen for new music. K Records compilations and the '90s Northwest US punk and grunge scene appear to be the more prevalent influences, and they instantly reeled me in.
Gary Jarman’s howls of "god damn" sound bitter and pissed off in this American-sounding punk rock number. Reminiscent of Nirvana’s "Drain You" mixed with the screams of Pixies’ Frank Black and the guitar riff of The Cribs’ own 2007 song "Our Bovine Public", this short, shouty offering (complete with a catchy chorus) is a band in their element. With Albini’s influence present, although not overbearing, this song blazes by in a similar vein to fan favourite "Major’s Titling Victory" with its raw energy. I certainly look forward to moshing to this track and screaming along to every word at their live gigs!
Sitting between the scratchy grunge throwback "Partisan" and the chugging stadium anthem "Broken Arrow","Dead at the Wheel" is like a lullaby. Ebbing guitars pull you down in a descending scale while Ryan sounds like he’s singing to himself,. Coming in at just under five minutes, it is the longest song on the album and needs to be in order to pull off the steady, encroaching melody. Just when your eyelids are drooping there’ll be a synth stab or a counterpoint to act like a shot of caffeine. The steady layering of percussion spurs you on and jolts you into a rhythm as if driving over cat’s eye road markings. The lyrics compliment the circular, chugging nature of the melody, using repetition and half rhymes to give the impression of thoughts meandering and going nowhere.
"Broken Arrow" breaks a recent streak of ambitious album closers, instead serving as a more straightforward number at just over four minutes. But don’t think for a second that The Cribs end 24-7 Rock Star Shit on a weak note, as the song could prove to be one of their most memorable outros. Intertwining Gary’s wistful - but slightly cryptic - verses with Ryan’s contribution of a distorted, forceful pop hook, this is one of several on 24-7 Rock Star Shit that wouldn’t be entirely out of place on an album by the Chicago-area duo Local H - a cult act straddling indie rock and grunge who continue to release solid albums and deliver fervent live shows for a passionate fanbase.
The real star of "Broken Arrow" is Ryan’s Electro-Harmonix Polychorus, a chorus/flanger effects pedal with a distinctive character and the ability to create extreme modulations. This is all very ‘full circle’ given Kurt Cobain’s usage of the pedal on Nirvana’s In Utero. Ryan’s warbling arpeggiated chords give emotional weight to Gary’s verses, but teamed with some distortion and Albini’s abrasive engineering, the Polychorus turns his simple but persistent lead guitar part into something of a siren.