In The Belly of The Brazen Bull gives fans of The Cribs pretty much anything they could ever want from the band, filtered through the 90s buzz lens of producers Steve Albini and Dave Fridmann.
The fifth record from the Yorkshire trio (former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr left the band in April 2011) runs the gamut. The first half cranks through short bursts of solid pop laced with aggressive guitar and drums. Here listeners are treated to the radio-ready sing-a-long anthem “Come On, Be a No One” and “Anna,” a romantic rocker with some great drum fills in the chorus.
In the middle of the album, The Cribs try out some new things. The Albini-produced “Chi-Town” is as close to punk as they’ll get with adequate results. “Back to the Bolthole” is a sludge fest with a creeping tempo and gritty synths that segues into the album’s quietest track, “I Should Have Helped.”
In The Belly of the Brazen Bull ends with a 4-track suite. Last in the set is the descriptively-titled “Arena Rock Encore With Full Cast.”
“Sorry that it’s taken years,” the band sings together, “We were victims of our own ideals.” The monster chorus makes the sarcasm juicier, though even as The Cribs are making fun of arena rock, they’ve managed to write a pretty catchy arena rock song.
What keeps In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull from being a great record is that it’s variety can feel calculated and it makes one wonder: Is this the music The Cribs wanted to write or the music they thought everyone else wanted them to write?
The Cribs will play Motorco on June 8. Tickets are $15 in advance.