Album Review: The Cribs - In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull

22 May 2012 | 6:50 pm | Christopher H James

Astonishingly, they sound not only alive, but positively energized.

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Well, if getting The Smiths' illustrious tunesmith Johnny Marr to join your band full time doesn't boost your indie cred, heaven knows what will. Departing after just one album to concentrate on solo material and without making The Cribs household names, you might have expected the follow-up to be something of a flat-liner.

Astonishingly, they sound not only alive, but positively energized. Whist the opening track rambles out of the gate like a slightly disorientated, fuzzier Supergrass, it's the next track Come On, Be A No One (an anguished yelp of brushing close to something like fame without finding the mark?) that really makes an impact, unleashing quiet-LOUD dynamics similar to the Pixies. Chi-Town is possibly the most successful hit here, an immediate anthem with a vocal hook that refuses to go away. All up, it's a reasonably well-balanced effort; Confident Men does a nice line in maudlin shoegaze, whilst I Should Have Helped is rare moment of acoustic strumming.

Despite all this, there's still something missing. No doubt, there are some bloody good melodies, but …Brazen Bull lacks just a few more killer songs. There's certainly some attitude, and their sound is distinguishable from their peers, whoever they may be. But the greatest bands often have that intangible, intrinsic quality that eludes definition – be it chemistry, mojo or just that extra special characteristic that you can't put your finger on – and The Cribs just don't seem to have it. In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is a mostly good album, it's just not exceptional.