‘For All My Sisters’, the first of two new studio albums from Wakefield rockers ,The Cribs is a self-professed pop-romp, and delivers no end of unabashed riffs and hooks. The album is somewhat of a departure from the raw aesthetic of their previous record ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, by instead drawing on 80s pop influences. This shift is heralded by The Car’s Rick Ocasek taking on the mantle of production from the likes of Dave Fridmann and Steve Albini. This shift is pronounced; they have gone from a producer known for her work with Nirvana, to one known for his work with on records such as Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’. Nevertheless, ‘For All My Sisters’ is brimming with everything that makes the more approachable side of The Cribs’ discography so appealing.
The album has at its core a handful of well-crafted pop songs; the glossiest of which being their first single, ‘Burning For No One’. The song is potentially one the band’s most accessible to date, with its jutting guitar lines rounded off by warm compression. Similarly ‘Different Angle’, a riff based song reminiscent of many of the tracks on 2003’s ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever‘, is typical of the album’s poppy sensibilities. The Jarman’s use of ‘ooohs’ glazes the instrumentation with a further melodic sheen. The lyrics of the songs in this vein tend towards adolescent sentiments; references to ‘rose tinted romance’ and wishing to ‘run away’ keep these songs comfortably in the realm of teenage anthems. Ocasek’s influence really shines through on tracks such as ‘Diamond Girl’; the guitars and vocals have a satisfyingly rich, double tracked feel to them and the gentle warbling of a synth hangs in the background to complete the unapologetically saccharine sound that he is rightly renowned for.
However, this pop-oriented approach to making a record could be viewed as detracting from the ‘live’ sound that has characterised previous Cribs releases. The album to some extent exchanges the instrumental flair present on albums such as ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ for tracks more heavily laden with these thick synth and guitar leads. If you compare Ross’ articulate hi-hat work on ‘Emasculate Me’ from their 2009 album, to the drumming on ‘An Ivory Hand’, the latter feels distinctly heavy handed – although the playing undoubtedly compliments the song well. This is a matter of personal preference, yet for me the prospect of their next album recorded with Steve Albini once again at the helm is something that is even more exciting than the release of ‘For All My Sisters’.
Regardless, there are some truly great moments on the album. Some of the best which it has to offer comes in the form of its longer tracks. ‘Pink Snow’ is definitely a standout. The song is compelling both instrumentally and thematically, as Ryan reflects upon his relationships with women – both platonic and otherwise. By far the longest cut of the album, it feels reminiscent of earlier Cribs songs such as ‘City of Bugs’ and ‘Back to the Bolthole’, and is an excellent way to conclude the album. ‘City storms‘ is another song that proves thoroughly enjoyable. The track maintains its accessibility whilst harbouring a satisfying dark tone in the verses that drives home its lyrical content.
Overall, ‘For All My Sisters’ is everything that you would hope for in a ‘poppy’ Cribs album. It’s packed full of songs begging to be released as singles and has enough variety that any fan of the Yorkshire lads, or newcomer to the band for that matter, will be enthralled by the record from start to finish. Bring on the next one, Jarmans.
By Gabriel Burrow