The Jarman brothers have welcomed Johnny Marr into the Cribs family fold - and what a difference a legend makes. Following the Alex Kapranos-produced pop caress of 2007's Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, the Cribs' fourth album is an unexpected slap. Their big choruses and authentic raw charm are still abundant, with Ryan Jarman ranting about "mid-shelf masturbation" on We Were Aborted, but Marr's guitar adds gravitas to the adrenalised indie.
The Cribs stretch their lineup and music on Ignore the Ignorant, adding Johnny Marr as their fourth member and adopting a more polished sound. This isn't a coincidence -- Marr's stint with Modest Mouse also saw that group tighten its playing and production on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. His influence, along with producer Nick Launay's, is felt immediately on the dark, driving opening tracks "We Were Aborted" and "Cheat on Me"; later, "Ignore the Ignorant"'s melancholy bounce bears more than a passing resemblance to the Smiths' classic "Panic.
Halfway through the Cribs' new album, singer/bassist Gary Jarman issues a plea to remember him like "last year's snow," but really, the Yorkshire band should be feeling a little more secure in their standing within the mod-eat-mod world of Britpop. Not only have the band lived to see their fourth album-- while other post-Libertines peers like the Others and the View get cast aside like so much NME roadkill-- their chart placements keep going up; Ignore the Ignorant recently hit No. 8 in the UK.
Gary Jarman, described as "the most political" of the three Cribs brothers, would like to make it clear his band have not made a political album. "It has been reported that our new record title is some kind of 'political statement'," he wrote on his MySpace, contradicting Ryan Jarman, who had said Ignore the Ignorant was titled after the BNP wins in June's European elections. "Just not true," continued Gary.
Opening your album with a track called “We Were Aborted”? It’s the Cribs all right, calling back to their glory days of blood and gore, backs split open on NME champagne glasses or stomachs scratched up in the middle of a furious set. But once you get down to the music, Ignore the Ignorant isn’t exactly juvenile. It sounds positively middle-aged.
My first exposure to The Cribs was during a Reading 2006 highlights package. Until then I’d lazily filed them with indiebollocks atrocities like The Paddingtons and The Others, and the sight of Ryan Jarman vacantly slurring nonsense in an interview, dressed preposterously in a too-tight ripped polo shirt didn’t challenge my presumptions. "Pricks," I thought.