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CD of The Week

Week of 12/07/20

    The Cribs - Night Network (Sonic Blew / PIAS)

    Contracts and industry standards rarely, if ever, breed goodwill. Shortly after the release of their last LP (2017's 24-7 Rockstar S**t), the members of The Cribs found out the hard way that the devil truly is in the details. The majority of the next three years involved lengthy legal battles over ownership of their back catalog that nearly crippled the band. But in the end, it is another story out of 2020 that sees the good guys win. With a welcome assist from Dave Grohl, who invited them out to record in the Foos' LA Studio 606, The Cribs return with Night Network. It is a brilliant collection of 12 garage-pop songs that exhibit just how much this trio needs to be together and making music.

    The album begins with the very on-the-nose "Goodbye." While at the surface it could be interpreted as a mere breakup song, anyone with knowledge of the band's legal troubles can draw the proper correlations. Rather than spend an entire album writing about the weight of the past three years, they address it head-on so they can spend the rest of the album doing what they do best.

    A quick 1-2-3 from floor to rack tom brings us back into the familiar with "Running Into You," an up-tempo rock song that features the guitar fuzz and harmonies we've come to expect from the Jarman siblings. This is followed by the equally catchy "Screaming in Suburbia", a somewhat maudlin reflection on the band they used to be and the people they still feel they are despite it all. As Ryan Jarman wails in the chorus, they are all "still the same kids/screaming in suburbia".

    While the strolls down memory lane are fun, it is the detours that make Night Network worth the wait. "Earl and Duke" is a very low-key breather that is equal parts dejected and honest in its depiction of friendship through anything.  The lyrics are a beautifully written soliloquy accompanied by a clean guitar riff that never stops moving. It's a highlight of the album with a message that surely can be applied to many different relationships that have no doubt seen their share of struggles this year.

    "Under the Bus Station Clock" is another surprise on the album. It has the swagger of a Springsteen love song mixed with Bee Gees guitar energy and the Cribs' own trademark garage rock drive. If this description alarms you, the quality of the song will put quell those reservations. It's a refreshing change of pace that shows how the band is not reserved to just parading through the past.

    It was on the brink of destruction that The Cribs discovered a newfound drive. While Night Network literally starts with a goodbye, the album as a whole is an exclamation. They are here to stay and still have a lot more to say. All we have to do is turn up the volume and listen.
    Review by Keith Obaza

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