The Cribs: The New Fellas

By Derek Wright

Pop-culture critic David Eggers theorizes we listen to songs to “solve” them. When a track loses its mystery, it loses its purpose.

If so, The Cribs’ sophomore LP poses one riddle: “Where have we heard this before?”

The English siblings’ mimicry is on par with some of rock’n’roll’s greatest con jobs. Yet, it’s not that the trio’s imitations are anything new – great bands have been perpetrators of copycat songwriting.

Elastica was sued by Wire for the similarities between its track “Connection” and the post-punk outfit’s “Three Girl Rhumba.” Green Day’s “Warning” wouldn’t sound more like The Kinks’ “Picture Book” if Ray Davies wrote it for the Bay-area punks himself. Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lot Of Love” lifts the melody and structure of the Small Faces “You Need Loving,” while also taking its title from one of the numerous plagiarized lyrics.

However, what makes The Cribs so disheartening is the constant mimicry. This déjà vu-inciting release sounds like it was written while the Jarmon brothers were on a break between chapters of “A Dummy’s Guide to Being Trendy.”

The first three songs are reminiscent of countless retro-revival bands, but not until the fourth track, “Mirror Kissers,” and the use of the bass line from The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” does the record get too familiar.

The reserved “It Was Only Love” echoes of Rod Stewart’s “Reason To Believe,” before the title track mixes start-and-stop mid-tempos with harmonic guitars a la The Strokes’ “Hard To Explain.”

Though the remaining hybrid of Iggy Pop-esque vocals and crafted casualness makes for hipster esthetic – it is predictable. Regardless how inspiring the trio’s iPod playlist may be, there is no excuse for the band’s lack of originality.

And that is why The Cribs’ songs are so easy to figure out.