The Cribs have been going strong for some ten years now – no small feat for a British indie band. In contrast to some of their more highly-rated contemporaries (Bloc Party, anyone?), the brothers have exhibited remarkable consistency, arguably improving since their self-titled debut in 2004, perhaps due to their undeniable ability to come up with appealing hooks and riffs.
Their last record, In the Belly of the Brazen Bull, coming after the departure of Johnny Marr, exhibited a slightly darker aesthetic, but things have evidently lightened up for the band in the time since. For All My Sisters, the first Cribs album in three years, does not shirk when it comes to the hooks.
In fact, it contains some of The Cribs’ catchiest and poppiest moments yet, particularly in the use of layered harmonies in the first half of the album. Ryan Jarman is not afraid to break into the falsetto range with vocals, and it works well, especially on the chorus of opener ‘Finally Free’.
The crooning, high-pitched hook in the introduction of second track ‘Different Angle’ would fit in nicely on a Peace album. Lo-fi ballad ‘Simple Story’ is also impressive, featuring Jarman’s musing, “It’s only my heart that’s bleeding,” over mostly acoustic accompaniment. The catchiness of the chorus is offset nicely by the fuzzy guitar tone and bass-heavy sound, meaning that the album, while accessible, maintains a garage rock edge, and there are some classic punchy Cribs riffs here (listen to ‘City Storms’).
The second half of the album, though, lacks some of the energy of earlier tracks, and there are definitely fewer striking moments as the record moves onward, with things becoming a little too formulaic. The Jarmans use the trick of having the vocals match the guitar riff one too many times (it appears to some degree on each of tracks nine to 11), meaning it’s hard to distinguish between the verses of a couple of these later numbers. That said, the last and longest track, ‘Pink Snow’, is very good indeed, exhibiting a well-executed transition from a stripped back verse into its frenzied chorus and a final cathartic moment, making for a fi tting end to the album.
All in all, For All My Sisters succeeds in what it tries to do – it’s definitely melodically potent and catchy, but thankfully never sugary. The album definitely tires, though – rather running out of ideas – before the excellent final track, and perhaps cutting out a few minutes would have made the record a little leaner and less repetitive. But, overall, this is a satisfying effort from The Cribs – and certainly among their most listenable.