In no particular order, here is a list of the Wakefield’s indie-rock/punk icons most underrated tracks, from across their dense and varied catalogue.
Happy is Just a State of Mind and a State of Mind is Just Electrical Impulses
The b-side to the essential Cribs single ‘Mirror Kissers’, this track proves that even when eschewing their guitar-driven sound, the band’s organic songwriting moulds to any shape, emitting a similarly captivating, emotive pull as any other Cribs choice. The track is just 90 seconds, and transmits enormously moving emotions within this small time, with Gary Jarman’s yearning, scratchy backing vocals adding subtle sparks of aching melancholy to twin brother Ryan’s lead vocals.
I’m Still Blaming You
This punk-infused, quintessentially visceral Cribs-style track was the B-side to Martell, and contains easily one of Ryan Jarman’s greatest and most addictive riffs. With a scorching disdain for their contemporaries etched into the Jarman’s lyrics and vocals, the track easily fits alongside the tracks on ‘The New Fellas’. This disdain is also portrayed by a rarely heard voice in The Cribs’ catalogue – that of younger brother Ross, whose spoken word section features in the track’s blistering conclusion.
Curse the English Rain
A cut from the band’s era as a four-piece, ‘Curse the English Rain’ is a sparking example of the bright, melodic infusion which Johnny Marr brought to their sound. The vocals from Gary shine here too, diving from their stirring gravelly bite to a melodic sheen with graceful dynamism.
Back to Black
For the ‘Q’ magazine tribute to the late singer-songwriter, The Cribs covered this colossal hit by Winehouse and Mark Ronson. They do so in a way which honours the original – the piano front and centre – but also adding a suitable amount of Cribs punk fervour – a stunning, volatile climax thrashing with beautifully moving anguish.
Taken from 2012’s ‘In the Belly of the Brazen Bull’, ‘Confident Men’ is one of the best and most prominent examples of the cathartic pain lying at the core of the album, the vocals from Gary rising in yearning waves. The singular drum pattern from Ross is similarly evocative in it’s caustic, cutting thuds.
I Was Her Man But I Done Her Wrong
Also taken from ‘The New Fellas’ era, this folk-tinged track’s greatest rendition is likely their 2007 ‘Cribsmas’ shows at Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club, joined by violinist Jamie Lockhart. Ryan Jarman spits out a world-weary, melancholic, and embittered tale of lost romance, abrasive acoustic guitar intensifying emotive well.
I See Your Pictures Everyday
Decorated with heavenly chord progressions from Ryan Jarman, and soaring vocal deliveries from Gary, ‘I See Your Pictures Everyday’ tells of the stray cats of Portland, rivalling Queen’s ‘Delilah’ as an effusive ode to the feline companions.
On the Floor
An early cut from around the time of the band recording their debut, ‘On the Floor’ displays classic Cribs qualities in it’s lyrics of sheer candour sharp, punk-y riffs, thumping bass, and propulsive drumming.
The Watch Trick
The opener from their debut, although noted even by the band to be somewhat disregarded by some yet loved by the brothers themselves, is as essential a Cribs track as any. The incredible guitar riff and surging drums seem to ricochet off one another, accelerating the frenetic pace of the track, while Ryan sings of an aching desperation to escape his solitude.
A cover of the Queen classic, much-loved by the brothers, sees the Jarmans fill the mighty shoes of Mercury and Bowie with grace, powerful and sharp musicianship and exceptional vocals.