Review Summary: It’s got average written all over it.
After the release of their last album, 2007’s Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever
The Cribs shot to the stardom that had previously evaded them. The lure of star name producer Alex Kapranos in addition to the raucous shows promoting the album resulted in a personal best of a #13 in the UK albums chart. As well as appeasing to older fans Men’s Needs...
brought the band into the attention of many newer fans, with the more pop-friendly production values of Alex Kapranos the main rationale. Alas with success comes a heightened anticipation for future releases, and there is no bigger hype machine in the world than the British music press. Faced with such expectation a band can choose to do one of two things: they can re-write and re-release the album that garnered them such attention in the first place and hope their mindless fan-base will gobble it up all the same, or they can choose to progress their sound and release an album surpassing their previous work in terms of originality and artistic endeavour. Unfortunately along the way the Jarman brothers have evidently become caught in two minds over their options and although the addition of legendary guitarist Johnny Marr would make it seem as if The Cribs have chosen the latter option, the ex-Smiths guitarist fails to spice up bands sound in the way they would have liked. Ignore The Ignorant
shows the Cribs stumbling through their maturation in much the same ilk as an adolescent would. Sure, there are undoubtedly moments of brilliance scattered throughout, but the end product leaves much to be admired and much room for improvement.
Earlier albums presented the band in a blasé lo-fi light, favouring a rougher production similar to that of The Strokes and The Libertines. Men’s Needs...
changed this, with the effervescent Alex Kapranos drafted in to give a glitz to the raw talent. The polished sound certainly added a new dimension to the band’s sound and while the album was let down in parts as Ryan’s vocals faded towards the end the overall product was their most complete package to date. However with Ignore The Ignorant
the band have reverted to their purist, lo-fi roots. Those who were fans of the stripped-down, raw sound of The New Fella’s
will no doubt be pleased, but those hoping for a continuation of the somewhat more polished sound of Men’s Needs...
will be sorely disappointed with the regression. The stale guitar riffs and flaccid rhythmic backbone do little to help matters with poor all round performances on Hari Kari
and misplaced closer Stick To Yr Guns
only adding to the sense of loss. Quite simply, on Ignore The Ignorant
The Cribs have misplaced the carefree youthful exuberance shown in abundance throughout Men’s Needs...
Another aspect of Men’s Needs
that the band have inexplicably lost is the ability to write ‘album tracks’. There is no doubt that the Jarman’s are particularly adept in the art of writing singles and both lead single Cheat On Me
and second single contender We Were Aborted
live up to the standards set by Hey Scenesters
and Our Bovine Public
. Unfortunately it’s a different story for the rest of the album. Neither The New Fella’s
nor Men’s Needs...
were exempt from having filler, Haunted
and Ancient History
respectively are two of the worst tracks The Cribs have ever penned. However on both of their previous albums The Cribs managed to keep the filler to a minimum. This trait is less true for [i]Ignore The Ignorant[i], which is really the albums main flaw. Unnecessarily ornate guitar passages from newbie Johnny Marr on Nothing
add little to the band’s sound and at times it seems as though his addition has cramped the Jarman’s relaxed dynamic. He’s just as unnecessary on the aforementioned confusion of Hari Kari
and though undoubtedly a legend in his own right he seems redundant here. Emasculate Me
places too much focus on the twins noticeably variable vocals whereas the eponymous track tries too hard to give off a ‘heavier’ atmosphere and ultimately feels forced.
Despite this though Ignore The Ignorant
does have its moments. The infectiously catchy chorus to opener We Were Aborted
adds a desperately needed sense of fun to the album, something that lead single Cheat On Me
continues. City Of Bugs
starts with a brilliant instrumental build-up and sounds and is blemished only by its running time, the six minutes allow the despairingly conservative vocals to become grating. Similarly We Share The Same Skies
shows some of the albums best instrumental work; including the one time that Marr’s second guitar is used effectively, and Save Your Secrets
is the bands most carefully constructed ballad yet only to once more be thwarted by both Gary and brother Ryan’s lethargic vocal deliveries. The vocals themselves are as infuriatingly inconsistent as everything else, the previous instance and Emasculate Me
being two of the worst examples. We Were Aborted
shows a change in their fortunes with the best performance on the album, but unfortunately it all goes downhill from there. By now it should be obvious that although plenty of songs illustrate the quality coursing through the veins of the creative outlet that is The Cribs, none of this manifests itself in the form of an entire song. What we get on Ignore The Ignorant
is a smattering of talent atop a very average backbone.
Ultimately Ignore The Ignorant
sees The Cribs trying to grow up. There are some mature ideas on the record for sure and in terms of ideas song construction they have come a long way from their punky roots. Even so time is needed for this newly changed unit to work as well as a fully oiled model. Johnny Marr has much more to offer than he shows on this evidence and should be adding more to both the song writing and the execution once he has fully integrated into the act. While the faster paced songs early on is a strong start, the album unravels and eventually falls to pieces during the weak middle and end sections. Although as a whole it is weaker than their previous works, Ignore The Ignorant
does contain moments that hint towards greatness and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
Cheat On Me
We Were Aborted
City Of Bugs
Overall 2.5 Average