The Cribs prove that growing up is tough on their new album

Photo courtesy of Arts & Crafts.

It’s been three years since The Cribs released new material on In the Belly of the Brazen Bull, giving them plenty of time to reflect on their lives, music, and sound. In 2011, the band parted ways with former The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and in 2012 Ryan Jarman (lead vocals) and girlfriend Kate Nash split up.

So what has all the heartbreak taught the trio of brothers? According to them, a newfound love and embracement of the poppier side of life. Working alongside ‘80s pop powerhouse Ric Ocasek, frontman of The Cars, the Jarman brothers sought catchy hooks and a less abrasive sound on their new album, For All My Sisters.

Photo courtesy of Arts & Crafts.
Photo courtesy of Arts & Crafts.

Teaming up with musical vets has worked for them in the past: their album Ignore the Ignorant was clearly influenced by Johnny Marr, and the effect was a cohesive and sophisticated sound for the band. With this success in mind, it’s no surprise that they enlisted Ocasek to produce a pop record.

For All My Sisters kicks off, guitars blazing, with “Finally Free.” This and the following track, “Different Angle,” provide plenty of woo’s and ooo’s for all those wanting a sing-along. The band’s lyrical style has changed little over their 13-year career, and their distinct voices clamber through the album, expressing a breadth of emotions. 

On “Burning for No One,” the album’s first single, Gary Jarman expresses his eternal gratitude for the realisation of his own irrelevance. The self-deprecation continues on tracks “Mr. Wrong” and “Simple Story.”

But the album finds its stride after the reprieve of “Simple Story.” The catchy, fast-paced second half of the album powers on, ending on the undulating “Pink Snow,” which shifts between tame verses and high-velocity choruses with added screams for good measure.

The Jarman brothers are under the impression that they have some growing up to do: protecting their sisters like any good brothers would, they promise to “try and be brave for you,” but are equally aware that they’re “gonna have to be a man someday.” Maybe it’s this immaturity that keeps leading them to the musicians of an older generation.

As for Ric Ocasek’s influence on the band, it comes across diluted, and was maybe not ‘just what they needed.’ Ocasek’s ‘80s pop influence aside, For All My Sisters is a raucous album full of roar. While not quite the pop album they had hoped for, The Cribs continue their unique style that needs no outside influence — if only they were man enough to realize it.