In 1994 a computer game called Quarantine came out. It used the DOOM engine in an interesting new way by making the player a cab driver in a post-apocalyptic city. You would drive around picking up passengers and driving them about – the other pedestrians were infected with a disease that turned them into crazed killers and often walked in front of your car forcing you to mow them down, blood running down the windshield. I mention this because, most memorably, the car radio featured a host of songs by alternative rock bands who were never heard from again. The production of these songs was grungy and messy: strained singing, crashy drums that sounded like they were recorded in a cardboard box, slightly unbalanced guitar arrangements, etc, etc. While driving through a wasteland mowing down people formed from blocky pixels, this messy rock music worked perfectly. I say all this because The Cribs’ 24-7 Rock Star Shit sounds like it could have come off the exact same CD. It’s just 23 years too late.
The album is produced by the legendary Steve Albini, who seems to be going through the motions here churning out yet another identikit indie guitar band. I get it, The Cribs want to sound raw and unpolished; after long enough it seems every band wants to drape itself in nostalgia at some point. However, it’s been a while since I listened to something as inoffensive, irrelevant and middle of the road as this. It sounds like that friend you know who’s still in a band and every now and then they send you a song to check out and you think “wow, you still sound like a band I grew out of after high school”.
Another problem is that many of the songs outstay their welcome. Most could have been thirty or more seconds shorter – Partisan, regrettably, could have been two minutes forty eight seconds shorter. Then there is the single Rainbow Ridge, which is a strange choice as it doesn’t really go anywhere or have anything even remotely enjoyable about it. The booming, heavy guitar overpowering the chorus is distracting and it may be the weakest song to ever have the word “rainbow” in the title. Elsewhere Dendrophobia is the strongest track by some margin, featuring a great riff and solid hook-laden chorus, yet it still sounds like one of the weaker tracks from Hole’s Live Through This but you know, without any women in the band. The last track Broken Arrow is a good summary of the album, as when it’s finally starting to get going it fades out, almost as if someone said: “That’ll do Cribs, that’ll do”.
24-7 Rock Star Shit is released on 11th August 2017 through Sonic Blew via Red Essential and House Arrest.