The Cribs seem to have an enduring place in the musical landscape as kind of the most famous cult band, achieving seemingly guaranteed continuing success with each release. For the best part of sixteen years they’ve kept it in the family – House Jarman – apart from those three years they played with Johnny Marr, but that’s pretty neat in and of itself. More recently, the Jarmans had an exhibition dedicated to them in Wakefield – the band’s cradle. Even the ex-White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, follows the band on Twitter, showing that the band’s flavour of biting Wakefield punk rock has reached all the way to the corridors of power. I like to imagine Scaramucci was actually fired for mischievously playing two minute Payola banger You’re Gunna Lose Us on repeat in his office, loud enough for the words “don’t say that cause I’ll shit on your doorstep” to echo through the hallways and gardens of the White House and comically infuriate the orange man himself.
This latest effort from the Brothers Jarman is classic Cribs, very much in the vein of their earliest releases, yet does not ignore the development the band has undergone since their debut release all the way back in 2004. The album’s opener, Give Good Time, is everything a Cribs song should be – raw, biting, full of blistering guitar tones and impassioned Jarman vocals, just like mama used to make. Year of Hate follows quickly after, instantly bringing to mind some of the band’s janglier riffs before accusing privileged kids of “trying to say how it is” and describing the “mating call of those who should never breed” above its banging coda.
Yet its not all shouting and overdrive. In true Cribs fashion, 24-7 Rock Star Shit is surprisingly tender at points. Sticks Not Twigs changes the instrumentation around somewhat, with acoustic guitars and piano instead of the bedrock of noise that the Jarman Trinity usually build upon. While this isn’t unprecedented they pull it off here brilliantly, helped by some gorgeous drum production – the kick in this song is lovely, and everyone likes a good kick tone, it’s only natural. As a side note, the drum production throughout the is really rather excellent. Nothing is lost or drowned out, everything’s balanced, and it all sounds punchy, neat and appropriately raucous.
The longest track on this album of short songs, at just under five minutes, is Dead At The Wheel. The calmer pace and vocals, muted synth tones and drum machine set it apart from the preceding noise and as a result, it feels like a breather after emerging from the gleeful crashing and tumbling riffs of the previous eight songs. Almost as if you’ve popped out of the venue for four minutes and fifty-five seconds to let the sweat dry off a bit and to have a cigarette and a Lucozade, before heading back in to get all sweaty again. It also shows that the brothers are good at working beyond the robust and versatile Jarman formula that has served them so well – although this has perhaps been better demonstrated in earlier songs like Be Safe or Pink Snow, the former buoyed by the esoteric complaining of Lee Ronaldo which is sewn throughout it and the latter showing that despite being known for short songs the band can deliver a satisfying seven minute sprawl. Yet perhaps its unfair to get in a twist about this, seeing as the album is designed as a return to the band’s roots and the Jarman formula is pretty damn good anyway.
24-7 Rock Star Shit was quite remarkably recorded live to tape in five days, and the record clocks in at just 36 minutes. There’s not much space between songs, and consequently it flows at a breakneck pace so that before long its over, like a punk rock log flume. To me, it seems that the band just decided one day to smash out an album and then pulled it off, no dramas, no sweat, no worries mate. The album’s title upholds this attitude. Putting a really quite decent album together almost effortlessly goes along nicely with lobbing your sea blue Squier into a big stack of amps at the end of your set, or recording the drum parts for eleven songs with a broken wrist, or going out with Kate Nash, as just the kind of Shit you do 24-7 if you’re a Rock Star. Y’know, Rock Star Shit. That you do 24-7. 24-7 Rock Star Shit.
Picks:Year of Hate, In Your Palace, Sticks Not Twigs, Dead At The Wheel