For their sixth album, the Cribs have softened their punkier leanings to let a selection of pristine melodies shine out. Give it a spin using the player below, and let the band talk you through it with their brilliantly in-depth track-by-track guide.
Gary Jarman: This started off life much slower, with a swing beat and clean guitars – like Surfer Girl or something. Its working title was 50s Song, then over time we gradually kept upping the tempo, and eventually kicked on the Big Muffs to make it what it is today. The lyrics were written, in part, during a spell I spent in hospital last summer. We were in the middle of demoing the album, and about to head to NYC to record after we had finished our live commitments, but right at the end of the trip I was admitted to hospital and ended up undergoing surgery. It looked for a time like I wasn’t going to be able to return to the USA for a while and would have to cancel recording. This was terrifying, and I pledged to myself that if I got out of hospital in time, then this song had to be finished by then ... hence the title.
Gary Jarman: This song was written in one of the earlier writing sessions for this album. We came up with it in my basement at home in Portland. We had a few sessions out there. It was all based around Ryan’s riff.
Ryan Jarman: It was one of those that came out spontaneously, yet seems like a classic Cribs-y sounding riff. The song went through a couple of different incarnations before this one with different verses etc. Lyrically, it seems to be about the first night I spent hanging out with my girlfriend, and how we both felt like black sheep, for different reasons.
Burning For No One
Gary Jarman: When we wrote this song we were specifically trying to write something very unabashedly pop. A lot of our inspiration comes from our own personal feelings of nostalgia, and this song really harks back to our youth, I think, in its influences. I had this idea of writing lyrics that would give voice to the feelings I had as an adolescent but couldn’t articulate at the time, as a way of justifying and resolving that classic hormonal confusion and torment. So some of these songs are kind of love songs to my hopeless youthful crushes. I remember in the early 90s being really infatuated with these sort of androgynous looking women, people like Martika and Demi Moore in Ghost. I think I was in love with Demi Moore’s character Molly Jensen way more than the reality of fancying a film star. Someone who never existed, basically.
Gary Jarman: This song was written by Ryan, sometime during the In the Belly of the Brazen Bull (our fifth album) era. He was undergoing some turbulence and upheaval in his personal life, and ended up ultimately leaving his home in London and moving back to the north. As a result, this is the most direct and driving song on the record, I think.
Ryan Jarman: Yeah, this song is pretty self explanatory and I feel like it could easily fit on ... Brazen Bull. It’s just about being the wrong person for someone. And that doesn’t necessarily make either one a bad person – just not right.
An Ivory Hand
Gary Jarman: As woefully pretentious as this may sound, this song came to me in a dream. I have found that many musicians have dreams about songs (according to my informal research), but upon awakening can never quite remember what they sounded like. Anyway, in this case I dreamed both the verse and the chorus on separate nights about six months apart, and foggily sang them into my phone while still half asleep. Then I put them in the same key and timing to form the basis of this song. Lyrically, I was reading Shadowland at the time – as someone who has lived in the Pacific northwest for eight years I felt it was my duty – and that definitely creeps in there in places.
Gary Jarman: With both me and Ryan living in the USA nowadays, when we came over to the UK for festival season last year we ended up staying back at our parents’ house for a while. One morning I woke up, and heard Ryan playing this song in his old bedroom. Just like the old days. Anyway, he finished it that day and we recorded it later that night. Ric [Ocasek, producer] loved the stripped-back nature of the recording and didn’t want to change anything, so that’s the same version presented here.
Ryan Jarman: This song just came out all at once, and pretty much complete. The lyrics you hear are just what came out spontaneously as I was playing it. It’s about how when you are in a liberated situation, you still end up trapped by the same things as ever. You still end up staggering down quiet roads of empty infatuation. You can’t offer anyone what they want, so what’s the point?
Gary Jarman: I think of this as kind of an old-school Cribs song, written all together in one room, very quickly – just going off the energy of the track. Indulging our Replacements obsession maybe. Ryan wrote all the words for this, and they sound very influenced by his recent move to NYC.
Ryan Jarman: The lyrics are based loosely on a day when I first visited New York prior to living there. I was living in a studio that was in use commercially through the day but that I could use myself all night. One evening, there was a huge storm in the Lower East Side that was like something out of a movie, all the power went out and it was difficult to get phone reception. My girlfriend was out running an errand and I felt really freaked out with the rain lashing down and the sky constantly flashing. When I can’t get through to someone I immediately imagine the worst, like a dog that assumes its owner is never coming home – I assume I’ll be alone forever. And it was strange, in that moment I felt like New York was some crazy exotic place miles away from where I used to call home, and I felt completely alone and helpless. Of course, the moment the power is back or the phone is picked up, you realise how dumb it all was. Until the next time ...
Gary Jarman: Another one from the Portland sessions. This song was written during a period of time when someone that was very close to us moved on and stopped speaking to us, cutting us out of their lives. It was very hurtful, and not knowing what was going on was worse than any conclusion. So I think that really informed this song. Mixed in with the usual self-loathing, trying-to-make-sense-of-things self-critique that has been the foundation for a lot of our songs! I think that has always been one of the biggest misconceptions around our band – the idea that we are “confident”, “cocksure” or whatever other term I’ve seen bandied around a lot in the past. We always had convictions, sure, but never ever have we been self-assured in that way.
Summer Of Chances
Gary Jarman: This is a song that we spent ages writing and kept putting on the back-burner, but Ross [Jarman, drummer] was adamant that we work on it. It was his favourite of the demos. It’s really, really hard to sing – it covers a much wider range than anything we’ve done before. It sounds, ultimately, like a really hopeful song to me, but also references male/female sexual politics, and Shadowland creeps back in there too, as it seemed relevant to the subject matter.
Gary Jarman: This was the song that we were expecting would be the first single. I thought it came out so well. As crazy as it may seem, we thought the verse was really evoking a dark, almost groovy Thriller-esque vibe, coupled with a really upbeat and direct chorus. The middle eight came from a dream once again (I am aware of how Jim Morrison this is coming across, but it’s true!). This one was really Ryan’s baby.
Ryan Jarman: I always loved the chorus of this song, and definitely saw it as a single as Gary said, but although the music came fast it was a really tough song to finish. I’m not sure why. It’s loosely about people having the wrong idea about you, or your situation, and about how you either end up living up to what has been projected onto you, or resenting it but feeling too apathetic to try changing it.
Spring on Broadway
Gary Jarman: This song started out life, again, as a much gentler proposition. The demo is in more of a Big Star/Teenage Fanclub vein – much janglier, with a 12-string and a Hammond. The intro is a reference to that. Lyrically, this song harks back to a trip that I had to take to meet a record label down in LA. I ended up at some swanky hipster party and felt really uncomfortable and stupid, like a total loser. The next day, I had to check out of the hotel early in the morning, but had a whole day to kill before my flight. I just wandered around downtown Los Angeles looking for Spring on Broadway. It was a weird feeling, having loads of time on my hands with nowhere to go and no transportation – very much reminiscent of my teenage years, and a feeling that I had forgotten. I was still feeling a bit delicate and ended up writing most of the lyrics in that afternoon, sat on the corner of Spring and Temple. There is no Spring on Broadway in LA, they run parallel – though incidentally, the studio we recorded at in NYC is right off Spring on Broadway!
Gary Jarman: The longest song we have ever written, and the one that we spent the most time on crafting by far. There are versions of this song that were almost 15 minutes in length – we started having to be very brutal in our editing and still couldn’t get it below seven minutes. I think it’s the best song on the album, personally.
Ryan Jarman: The female relationships I have had in my time in the band, platonic or otherwise, seem to be the most important connections I have made, and I think about them often ... people in far-flung places that I keep rare contact with who I passed my loneliness onto accidentally. That’s kind of the basis of this song. I also feel like the main motif is my favourite riff I have written.