Night Network opens with the lovely oddity of ‘Goodbye’, a witty and almost choral finger-up at the band’s difficulties the past couple of years that almost resulted in their demise. From lead single ‘Running Into You’ that follows, however, it is clear that the Wakefield trio have come back stronger than ever. Leaden with The Cribs’ signature choppy riffs, grungey tone and whirring bass, the track brims, like many of the others, with a fierce desire to be played live and screamed back by a sweaty crowd.
Subsequent tracks ‘Screaming in Suburbia’ and ‘Never Thought I’d Feel Again’ glisten with trademark indie-rock perfection and (literally) twinned vocals, while the Lee Ranaldo featuring ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ harks back to the stormy heights of ‘Be Safe’. But rather than acting as a dull imitation of previous successes, Night Network brims with a newfound energy and unity that marks it as The Cribs’ most refreshing release in years.
The band’s first fully self-produced record powers on with the bittersweet yearning and lush harmonies of the heart-breaking ‘Earl & Duke’ and nostalgic soundtrack ‘Under The Bus Station Clock’, both featuring flawless guitar and big daydreaming potential. Personal standout ‘Siren Sing-Along’ is sweetly self-deprecating (“I beat myself much worse than any rival could”) but a radiantly sunny, Motown-tinged anthem, the vocal back-and-forth’s between the brothers as exciting as ever.
Night Network is a wholesome, compelling argument to why a Jarman-brothers break-up would be a disaster, a perfectly spirited collection of immaculate music. That the band still sound so fresh and vital fifteen years after their debut solidifies The Cribs’ legendary indie-rock status.