The Cribs in Brooklyn Vegan’s Indie Basement
By Bill Pearis
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: The Cribs – Night Network (Sonic Blew)
Gary, Ryan and Ross Jarman remind you why you loved them in the mid-’00s on The Cribs’ best album in ages
The Cribs have always felt like underdogs to me, a scrappy trio of brothers from Northern England that exuded a for-the-people attitude, turning their noses up at rockstar bullshit even during that three year period when Johnny fucking Marr was a member of the band. The music biz will take its toll on even the most grounded groups, and Gary, Ryan and Ross Jarman came this close to calling it quits following the release of 2017’s 24-7 Rock Star Shit, when they suddenly found themselves dropped by their management, and learned that through contract loopholes that all their albums that they thought they owned had been sold off to other companies. An opening slot opening for Foo Fighters at Manchester Stadium in 2018 might’ve been their last-ever gig but a pre-show talk with Dave Grohl gave them new hope. Grohl’s very rockstar advice — “fuck ’em, who cares, just make music” — also came with an offer for the band to make a record at his 606 studios in Los Angeles.
They took him up on that offer and here we are with Night Network, easily The Cribs’ best album since 2009’s Ignore the Ignorant if not 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. This is The Cribs you remember, the ones who could throw in a joyous, punchy “Whoa-oh” at the end of any chorus. The ones who channeled the wide-eyed wonder of Jonathan Richman through the dreary weather of Northern England and the shambolic energy of K Recs and Kill Rock Stars. (And yes a little Libertines.) Even though they were still fighting to get rights back to their records, you can tell they were enjoying making this record.
You’d think with what they were going though, this might be an angry record, but the mood on Night Network is hopeful and energetic, with a little, welcome dark streak running through. “Running Into You,” “Never Thought I’d Feel Again,” and “Siren Sing Along” rival “You Were Always the One,” “I’m A Realist,” and “Mirror Kisses” as the band’s catchiest, and they strike a poignant chord on “Earl & Duke” (about Ryan and his wife’s dog, Earl. who died a few years ago) and the Beach Boys-esque opening track, “Goodbye,” which works to put their recent woes into context (and in the past). They even re-teamed with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, who appeared on Men’s Needs and who here provides some signature guitar noise on the excellent “I Don’t Know Who I Am.”
Gary and Ryan, who live in Portland and NYC these days, both just turned 40 this year and while the big melodies are back, Night Network is not some attempt to recapture their youth. It does, however, seem to have found them reconnecting with their love of music and the joy of being in The Cribs and the feeling is infectious.