The Cribs are almost the ultimate fringe band; the band that is big with ‘musos’ but has never quite ‘broken’ the mainstream. Well, thank God for that. This album is them at their peak. The quirkiness is there, but so are the indie-pop melodies and the rock riffs. The album is a triumph- the most negative thing about it is the poor title. I mean, ‘In The Belly Of A Raging Bull’? Really?
Awful titling aside, the album is a perfect example of The Cribs at their best. It’s not quite perfect, but it’s pretty damn close, and that’s the magic of it. The tension of having two songwriters with conflicting influences shines through and is constructive rather than destructive in this case. From the echoes of 90s grit to the more modern influences, it mostly gels well. The opening track ‘Glitters Like Gold’ is perhaps not as energetic or raw as some of The Cribs’ other work, but the melody and punchiness is still there.
There’s less cockiness and more maturity on this album but that’s probably right- cockiness in a band gets irritating after a while. Think Oasis, weren’t we all just a little bit pissed off with them by the end of it all? Arguably the best thing about this album is that The Cribs haven’t sunk into complacency or self-parody.
The different producers employed for this album each bring their own feel to the mix- the three ‘songettes’ recorded with Albini, in particular, have a different, mellow feel to them.
The song ‘Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast’ sums up The Cribs right now perfectly. Here, they seem almost apologetic for not selling out but we shouldn’t take their apology. The Cribs are back in their groove, doing their own thing after a difficult period, and this album screams quality.
Pretty much as close to five stars as you can get.