Sound — 9
The Cribs, the English quartet that has already made a name for itself via catchy indie rock tunes, has struck gold with its fourth record. The West Yorkshire band already had an unusual twist thanks to two of the members being twins, and certainly that unique connection allowed for a natural chemistry to exist. But with Ignore The Ignorant, it marks the first album since the addition of Smiths' legend Johnny Marr, and it's a striking difference in sound. The Cribs always had a good sense of melody, but the trademark effects-driven, textured sound of Marr adds an entirely new dimension. Marr apparently has declared himself to be officially a full-time member (along with his other gig in Modest Mouse), which is a huge benefit to a band that was slightly rough-around-the-edges for the first three albums.
Ignore The Ignorant starts out with a few songs that could be considered single material, with the energetic and pop-tinged We Were Aborted as the opener. The power chords that are played for the first minute or so could be associated with any rock band, but not long after you hear Marr's unique sound interjected between charismatic vocalist Ryan Jarman's vocal lines. The first few tracks do have traditional rock arrangements, but thanks to memorable, catchy choruses (which again, the band has always excelled at), the first three songs holds your interest.
The Cribs' more impressive side comes out with songs like City of Bugs, which veers into experimental territory. The track begins what sounds like growling bass noises, followed quickly after by a beautifully picked section by Marr. It's around this point in the album when The Smiths' influence comes to the forefront. There's an undeniably smooth, yet moody aspect to Marr's style as a guitarist, and it's accentuated when Jarman opts for a more sedate vocal style. He never sounds like Morrissey by any means, but he still has a low-key, effortless quality on City of Bugs and Last Year's Snow that recalls some alternative rock artists from the 1980's.
Other highlights include the most rock-oriented track on Ignore The Ignorant, Emasculate Me. That particular song emphasizes Marr's gritty lead work as much as his ambient effects, and the underlying melody ties it all together. The title track, in terms of song construction, is the most reminiscent of an actual Smiths' song. If you've missed having a dose of old school Morrissey, Ignore The Ignorant will be a welcome addition to your playlist. That being said, The Cribs does a fine job of maintaining its original identity even with Marr's presence, and as indie rockers go, they written a solid fourth album.
Lyrics — 9
The Cribs have proven in the past that they have a knack for penning clever lyrics, and Ignore The Ignorant is chock full of quirky humor. Whether Jarman declares his worldliness in the title track (In these passionate places; There's a piece of me in every town; And the dialect changes; They never seem to wear me out) or the imperfection of relationships in Cheat On Me (I could be someone else if you'd rather; Try to win you over like a new stepfather; Smart but still a sucker for whoever asks you; I pictured the scene so you won't have to spell it out for me), he knows how to put a spin on the run-of-the-mill lyrical topics.
Overall Impression — 9
While it could be argued that Marr has suddenly become the driving force of The Cribs (and there's plenty of evidence to support such a claim), the new lineup works incredibly seamlessly together. Ryan Jarman is somewhat of a chameleon with his vocal style, going from a Julian Casablancas-type approach in Stick To Yr Guns to a punk-like passion in Nothing. There is certainly more of a Smiths' sound than ever before, but The Cribs haven't eliminated their indie rock roots on Ignore The Ignorant.