Let it never be said that The Cribs don’t know the power of a good collaborator. After employing the not inconsiderable talents of Edwyn Collins and Alex Kapranos respectively to produce their last two albums, this time they’ve gone and installed a brand new member – Johnny Marr.
Yes, that Johnny Marr – formerly of The Smiths, fully paid up legend and certified guitar genius. It’s a mouthwatering prospect: the Jarman brothers were good before, so just how good would they be with Morrissey‘s erstwhile songwriting partner in tow?
The answer is clear from the opening notes of their fourth album: very good indeed. The recruitment of Marr is no stunt casting, for he’s co-written every track here. His influence is clear, but he’s not hijacked The Cribs sound – rather, he’s enhanced and added to it, while adding some unmistakeable touches of his own.
Long-term fans need not be worried though, for Ignore The Ignorant is still unmistakably a Cribs album. That righteous anger is written all over the opening track We Were Aborted, Gary and Ryan Jarman’s voices spitting with disgust at the Nuts/Zoo generation – “your virility has made me forgot empathy… mid-shelf masturbation leaves a smear on half the nation”. It’s a blistering, exhilarating opener.
Marr’s influence is all over We Share The Same Skies. That jangly guitar introduction could almost be a lost Smiths song, and the bouncy chorus makes it one of the best songs on the album. There’s also some lovely slide guitar on the single Cheat On Me, although the introduction to the title track sounds almost too close to Panic. Although, if you’re going to sound like any other song, that’s not a bad one to choose.
Elsewhere, City Of Bugs is another highlight, beginning all shimmering and slightly sleazy, before cranking up beautifully for the chorus. It’s slightly reminiscent of Sonic Youth, which shouldn’t be too surprising considering Lee Ranaldo‘s appearance on the band’s last album.
But for all its brilliance, Ignore The Ignorant doesn’t quite touch the heights of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. Both Gary and Ryan Jarman’s voices sound seriously shot to bits at times – listen to Gary almost croaking out the chorus to Cheat On Me for example – and the songs tail away towards the end of the album, with both Nothing and Stick To Yr Guns sounding pretty ordinary.
It’s left to the exceptional Victims Of Mass Production to up the ante, which it does quite brilliantly. Powered along by another superb Marr riff, it bounces along with some typically acerbic Jarman lyrics, this time about shallow followers of fashion: “He’ll only wear the things in sees in magazines, he is a victim of mass production”. They’ve been attacking scenesters for some years now, and it’s nice to know they’ve not lost any of that fire in the belly.
The Cribs have always been a cut above their Yorkshire contemporaries, and Ignore The Ignorant demonstrates exactly why. With the new addition of Johnny Marr adding a new dimension, their future looks very exciting indeed.