The Cribs – ‘Chi-Town’

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The Jarmans blaze back in fine style

Goodbye Mr. Marr, hello Mr Bar. That’s ‘bar’ as in the boozing saloon that’s ever present on most Replacements songs. The Jarmans have become emboldened by the two-drink minimum in the shouty saloon of Mr. Paul Westerberg’s dreams.

The opening salvo from the band’s forthcoming fifth album ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, ‘Chi-Town’ (that’s slang for ‘Chicago’ to you and me) feels like it’s The Cribs beginning stage three of their career just as they mean to go on.

The track is a pressure cooker of stomping riffs and broad sea shanty melodies. It’s a ‘ra ra ra’ anthem for lounge lizards everywhere, evoking the carefree spirit of The Replacements’ ‘Tim’ and ‘Hootenanny’. It goes without saying that the team up with alt.rock hero Steve Albini on production duties is as inevitable as it is inspired.

It’s also as if the ‘proper rock’ poses of ‘Ignore The Ignorant’ never happened. ‘Chi Town’ (thankfully) finds the Jarmans retreating to an area of expertise they know best. The hipster fascinations of their lyrics live on in ‘Chi Town’ with Ryan’s reminiscing about the artistic commune he lived in for a couple of months (with Bobby Conn, no less!)

“You know the one/ You’re always there”, Ryan sings, evoking the bonhomie of the theme from Cheers, while the piano line gives a wink to The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’. Unconsciously or not, the circular nature of the track suggests a scene curling in on itself, a scene that could collapse under the weight of its own highly strung artistic aspirations at any minute (‘Hey Scenesters!’ much?). A witty, multi-layered return from our favourite trio.