The Cribs are back and on blistering form, brandishing their brand new eighth album, Night Network. Due to be released via Sonic Blew/[PIAS] on Friday November 13th 2020, the self-produced 12-track album was recorded at the Foo Fighters Studio 606 in Los Angeles in the spring/summer of 2019. The track-listing is as follows:
2. Running Into You
3. Screaming In Suburbia
4. Never Thought I’d Feel Again
5. Deep Infatuation
6. I Don’t Know Who I Am (feat. Lee Ranaldo)
7. She’s My Style
8. Under The Bus Station Clock
9. The Weather Speaks Your Name
10. Siren Sing-Along
11. Earl & Duke
12. In The Neon Night
The album is heralded by the fantastically creative, socially distanced video for lead track Running Into You – co-directed by Andy Knowles & Nick Scott and featuring acclaimed actor Sam Riley.
Talking about the video, The Cribs said:
Well, we’ve been gone for the last couple of years, so we wanted to channel the spirit of the inevitable ‘Cribs-mania’ which we are sure the news of our comeback will precipitate…hence the full on “media takeover” theme of the video…It was great to work with Sam again, our relationship with him goes all the way back to our very first headline tour which we undertook along with his band 10,000 Things – and we have considered him part of the family ever since. It’s an honour to have him involved
Having released their Steve Albini engineered album, 24-7 Rock Star Shit – their fourth consecutive UK top 10 album- in August 2017 the multiple Q and NME Award winning band almost immediately parted company with their long time UK management and found themselves stuck in what Gary describes as a “legal morass”, unable to record or release new music, so touring wasn’t an option either. That meant 18 months of fallow – heartbreaking stuff for a band who’ve known nothing else in their adult lives. “At one point we were actually so disillusioned with what had happened, we didn’t even know if we wanted to get back into the band any more,” says Ryan.
Fast forward 3 years and Night Network is as fresh, cathartic and vital as anything they’ve ever put out. There’s no weariness, no bitterness, just a clear desire to get back to doing what they do best – that unique blend of bittersweet melody, brutal lyrical honesty and riffs for days.
The turning point came at the 11th hour, in the late summer of 2018. The Cribs had been invited to support Foo Fighters at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, in what could very well have been the band’s last hurrah. Enter the brothers’ knight in shining armour, and childhood hero, Dave Grohl. Hanging out backstage, chatting over a few post-show drinks, The Cribs confided their recent struggles to their new friend. “Dave was just like, ‘Forget about all that business stuff, just come out to LA and make a record at our studio’ – Dave made that offer to us,” Ryan recalls
The three brothers are now scattered over nearly 5,000 miles, with Gary in Portland, Oregon, Ryan in Queens, New York and Ross in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. When they gathered in the UK for a family Christmas in December 2018, they began working on songs in Ross’s garage, and found the creative juices flowing.
The songs came together fast, and when they finally contacted the Foo Fighters and said they’d be keen to take them up on the offer, they were offered a window of studio time in April 2019 – a fixed date to work towards, and the impetus for a final push to sort out the miasma of business mess.
Their new found autonomy extended to the recording process itself – this is the first album to be entirely self-produced by the band. Engineered by James Brown (Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys) and mixed by frequent Cribs collaborator John O’Mahony (who also worked on ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ and ‘For All My Sisters’) the record took shape over two weeks in LA, plus an extra week of overdubs at Halfling Studios in Portland. Mercifully, it is not a poor-me album about the ills of the industry. No, they deal with that on the first track, a slice of surf-ready sunshine pop with gorgeous harmonies called ‘Goodbye’. “That was our way of saying ‘goodbye’ to that period of our lives. Let’s move on,” says Ross.
After that, no indulgence is made to the band’s struggle. Instead, it’s wall-to-wall Cribs bangers, the fruit of that special, symbiotic relationship between the songwriting, singing brothers, drawing on the boiled-down influences they felt had always been there: The Motown stomp of ‘Never Thought I’d Feel Again’ and ‘Under The Bus Station Clock’, red and blue album-era Beatles (‘Running Into You’ and ‘In The Neon Night’, respectively), melodic 70’s style pop on ‘Deep Infatuation’, and even early work by their own band.
And they return with a familiar friend, too – Lee Ranaldo, ex-of Sonic Youth, and the man whose spoken word verses on 2007 track ‘Be Safe’ helped elevate the song to anthem status amongst the bands legendarily devout fanbase. Here, Ranaldo plays guitar on ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ – and Be Safe Part II (Be Safer?) it ain’t. The song started out as a jam in Ross’s garage which the brothers later tracked at 606, before Ranaldo layered sheets of white-noise guitar over the recording at Sonic Youth’s Hoboken studio, and a few backing vocals for good measure.
In a typically downplayed way, the band have honed in on what’s so special about The Cribs: really bloody good songs. Fans might well think this is their best album in a decade. So, once again all is right in Cribs world – or as much as all is right in any world in 2020 at least. The Cribs are romantics and they’re realists, and the balance, for a hot minute, nearly tipped in the favour of the latter. But now they return empowered, beholden to no one, on the greatest form and still screaming in suburbia.