The Cribs | In The Belly Of the Brazen Bull

Wichita Records (2012)
By ANNIE ZALESKI  |  May 1, 2012
2.0 2.0 Stars

cribs1

In the 2000s, the Cribs initially drew comparisons to the Libertines, the Strokes, and other rag-tag rockers when they formed in West Yorkshire, England. However, it's perhaps no surprise that their creativity skyrocketed after British guitar deity Johnny Marr joined their ranks in 2008; his inimitable style — and atmospheric, chiming riffs — helped the band create their 2009 high-water mark, Ignore The Ignorant. With Marr's early-2011 departure, the Cribs have again shrunk to a trio — and, unfortunately, also regressed to the generic indie sounds of their early records. More specifically, jittery garage-rock and lo-fi '90s rock are the dominant influences. The buzzy hum coursing through "Uptight" and the piercing melody staggering through "Pure O" both rip off Pavement, while songs such as "Anna" and "Jaded Youth," despite their shambling guitars and sloppy vocal slurs, feel sluggish instead of inspired. In fact, that's the biggest problem with Bull: although the Cribs are very good at what they do, the songwriting on the album just feels tired and unfocused. Only near the end of the album — the doomy post-punk squeals/machine-gun marching drums of "Stalagmites" and the sweetly psychedelic Britpop jangle of "Like A Gift Giver" — does the band feel energized. By then, however, it's a case of too little, too late.

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