The Cribs – In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
Buy In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
Wakefield trio The Cribs have always been one of those bands that polarize opinions. Now onto their fifth album, The Cribs have unexpectedly become something of an institution within the ‘indie rock’ scene – despite their obvious aversion to publicity and playing to the masses.
In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is The Cribs’ first album since the departure of enigmatic guitar legend Johnny Marr, who added his virtuoso guitar embellishments to their last album, but it certainly sounds like he left his stamp on their sound. Sometimes this is for good, as in the case of ‘Anna’ and the brilliantly loose ‘Uptight’. Sometimes its for bad, like in the case of ‘Jaded Youth’ – which tries too hard to emulate Marr’s most memorable Cribs moment ‘We Share The Same Skies’.
But it’s unfair to look at this purely as ‘The Cribs without Johnny Marr’. After all, they were getting on alright before they hooked up with the former Smiths man. So how else can we look at In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull? As the best, most consistent album The Cribs have produced so far? That’s certainly true, but it ignores the slight lack of ambition that has been gradually becoming more apparent throughout their career so far.
The Cribs have relied on their rambunctious, slightly disorganised charm to get them this far. But no matter how well they put the melodies together, like in the catchy ‘Glitters Like Gold’ or rampant ‘Chi-Town’, it doesn’t detract from the fact that they have pretty much been doing the same thing for five albums now.
There is a hint in this album that they may be thinking about moving away slightly from their comfortable formula though. ‘I Should Have Helped’ is a delicate and sparse acoustic track with Ryan Jarman in full-on soul-baring mode: “I used to think i knew something that / No-one else knew / I was a fool…” Best of the lot, though, is ‘Butterflies’ which is undoubtedly my new favourite Cribs song – great guitar melody, great tempo and great vocal line. It’s so good, though, that it makes the mostly murky and unimaginative In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull that little bit more frustrating.
I’ve always seen The Cribs as a great band in waiting. In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull isn’t quite their masterpiece, but it shows enough to suggest that might not be too far away.
In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is currently streaming online, so you can listen to it here if you have Spotify: