Posted by: Johnny Loftus on July 31, 2007 at 8:55 am

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THE CRIBS, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever (V2, 2007)
For The New Fellas, their 2005 album, brotherly Yorkshire trio The Cribs had Edwyn Collins in the producer’s chair. Not too shabby, though the record didn’t do much domestically beyond some SXSW love and the usual flash paper response from Internet music listeners. Things are different this time around. The Jarman brothers — guitarist-vocalist Ryan, bassist-vocalist Gary, and drummer Ross — have enlisted a producer of equal stature, plus the added bonus of being in a cool and monstrously popular band that everyone in the world loves more than their mothers, black pudding, and football on the weekends.

With Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos along for the ride, everything on Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever is made sharper. The hooks and melodies hit faster and stay around longer, and Ryan Jarman’s vocals don’t immediately grate the way most of his contemporaries’ dour deliveries do. No, the grate comes later, after Men’s Needs has run out of steam faster than most latter-day Stereophonics records.

While “Our Bovine Public,” “Girls Like Mystery,” and the more thoughtful “I’ve Tried Everything” align their raging parts nicely with the guitar-based hooks, pretty soon the record starts to repeat itself with similar two-note riffs and more cynicism about minutes that last whole years. The Cribs fall into the same trap as most of their peers, which is not being quite strong enough or prolific enough to fill a whole album effectively. The Cribs start to coast on sound and feel instead of coming around with more of the vibrant, unexpected guitar lines that guide their best songs. Luckily they save some of their best work for near album’s end — “Ancient History” moves like a hit from the alternative era, with screeching guitars, pounding drums, and even a weird break at the end where the Jarmans start screaming about someone named Margaret Hammond. It’s Idlewild meets Sonic Youth, and that would be a valid comparison even if Lee Renaldo didn’t appear on Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever. The Cribs job now? Make the full-length record they have in them, no matter who the producer is.

Johnny Loftus

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