‘Shut up and play the hits’ might be a no-nonsense, guaranteed approach to getting a crowd onside, but sometimes as a fan you want something that cuts a little deeper. Wakefield’s finest, The Cribs understand this better than no-one: throughout their career, they’ve released unheralded gem after unheralded gem. With this in mind, here’s our pick of the ten most underrated Cribs tracks for you to salivate over…
‘Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant?’
The other half of the AA alongside ‘Our Bovine Public’, this 2007 single epitomizes the classic Jarman trick (see: ‘Hey Scenesters!’, ‘Mirror Kissers’) – hedonistic, indie disco-ready hooks masquerading a cutting core. “Your onstage antics out in Leeds were tailor made to suit men’s needs,” the brothers drawl with obvious disdain. Zing.
A criminally underrated highlight from 2009’s Johnny Marr-featuring ‘Ignore The Ignorant’, ‘Emasculate Me’ is perhaps the Cribs song with the catchiest strut. Featuring some quintessentially Marr-esque high-end fretwork, it’s full of relentless forward motion and some totally ball-busting drum work. As this live footage shows, this one is worth it, even if just to see drummer Ross pound the absolute living shit out of his kit.
‘Bastards Of Young’
The Cribs haven’t recorded that many covers, but their take on this Replacements track, released as the B-side to ‘I’m A Realist’, is proof that when they do pick them, they pick them well. Starting with a guttural scream from Ryan and full of defiant, call to arms lyrics, it’s the Cribs song that someone else penned before they had the chance. On a covers tip, their take on Comet Gain’s ‘Saturday Night Facts Of Life’ is also more than worth your time.
‘Things You Should Be Knowing’
And now, back to the beginning with this album track from the band’s eponymous 2004 debut. Still very much indebted to the record’s lo-fi leanings, ‘Things You Should Be Knowing’ sticks out however as one of the album’s brightest diamonds. All irrepressible bounce and joyous guitar solo, it was one of the tracks that perhaps pointed most clearly to where the band would be headed.
‘Kind Words From The Broken Hearted’
The B-side to standalone single ‘Don’t You Wanna be Relevant?’, ‘Kind Words…’ is built around a charmingly wobbly part that sounds like a vintage Farfisa organ alongside the kind of jubilant chorus that belies its slightly damaged lyrical core (“sweet words from a tortured mind”). It also gave its title to the band’s most notable fanzine.
A bonus track available with most recent studio LP ‘In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull’, ‘Eat Me’ finds the band at their most confrontational. Full of needling guitar interplay and Ryan’s bloodcurdling howl in the chorus, it’s at once abrasive but damaged, turning the self-loathing outwards into an assault on the world.
‘Shoot The Poets’
‘Shoot The Poets’ closed 2007’s ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Need, Whatever’ and makes for a sweet and simple, acoustic display of the Jarmans’ more restrained side atop wistful, nostalgic lyrics about “[losing] your heart in a provincial town”.
‘Save Your Secrets’
“You are far more likely to be devoured than empowered by your own sense of romance,” sings Gary Jarman over Johnny Marr’s melancholic fretwork. The Cribs might be more heralded for their knack for writing a punk-spirited mosher, but as this – one of their most affecting lyrical offerings – attests, the brothers’ way with a word is of a rare breed too.
‘My Adolescent Dreams’
Another B-side from the ‘…Relevant’ single, when the Jarmans were clearly in somewhat of a prolific, banger-writing purple patch, ‘My Adolescent Dreams’ encapsulates the ramshackle, teetering-on-the-edge-of-collapse punk spirit of the band’s live show. In and out in little over two minutes, it’s crackly, chaotic and messy in the best possible way.
‘You’re Gonna Lose Us’
Last but certainly not least, arguably deemed the band’s finest hour in Cribs nerd circles, ‘You’re Gonna Lose Us’ was released as a standalone single back in 2005. It fell out of favour with the brothers for a good number of years and was purposefully dropped from their live shows, but the Jarmans have since relented and started sticking it back in on special occasions in the last twelve months. Extra mention goes to presenter Terry Christian’s on point introduction in the ‘YGLU’ vid: “As northern as killing your brother’s kestrel… It’s The Cribs!”