Tagline: The Cribs go Hollywood – superstar producers, living legend guest stars and a recording studio somewhere across the Atlantic. And you can’t begin to comprehend the difference it’s made.
Er, alright. It’s actually made pretty much bugger all difference. It still sounds as ramshackle as ever. While that’s bound to cause some head scratching in Wichita’s accounts department when the bill arrives for the Franz man’s room service, no one else could possibly suggest it’s a bad thing.
Actually, it’s an all-in-capitals GOOD THING. No one wanted to see the gritty life choked out of Wakefield’s finest in a glossy haze of mainstream sheen, so it’s with no end of relief that Mens Needs, Womens Needs, Whatever crashes into coruscating life with Our Bovine Public.
My, how we’ve missed the Jarman rant and they strike bilious gold again. After haranguing scenesters and dismissing mirror kissers, the odious vagrancies of the industry are hung up for slaughter to the sound of oh-oh-oh-ohs nicked from the Yorkshire division of the Motown appreciation society, and a riff which will have Nick Valensi scratching his head and ordering pints of Tetley’s in a vague attempt to understand the reptilian charm of it.
The semi-titular first single Mens Needs is delivered with such force you fear that a larynx is going to end up in your lap, while the fuzzy grungey throb of Major’s Tilting Victory is the sound of a trio of lads gleefully pinning Stephen Malkamus down and throwing rabbit punches at his prostrate form until he begs them to stop.
They have the filth and the fury, crossed with an almighty gift for melody. They’re The La’s if Lee Mavers could’ve seen beyond changing that suspended fourth on the second bar of verse two and just gone out and drunk his weight in vodka, safe in the knowledge that what was there was as imperfectly perfect as it was going to get.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that the last band who nailed that blend this well were The Libertines, and we all know what happened there. Still, despite sharing the same worrying propensity towards self-harm, there isn’t the same destructive streak to it – while they’re quite happy to injure themselves in a variety of exciting ways, the band, and the songs, won’t suffer.
“I’m a realist, I’m a romantic, I’m an indecisive piece of shit”, they sing, and they’re two thirds right. There’s absolutely nothing indecisive (or indeed shit) about this album. It’s swaggering, full-throttle, full-throated genius. Album of the year? Whatever…