"Our Bovine Public" starts off the new album by the Cribs as an opening shot across the bow of the container ship that is the modern world. Or maybe that's not the point at all and there are no deeper meanings. It's hard to tell when every punk and indie group from scene to shining scene is dripping angst all the way to the bank. But the Cribs give us hope. Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever, the third album from this British trio, infuses catchy tracks with well-articulated anger and universal bewilderment. Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand's lead singer, produced it and presumably had a hand in its girding by electric guitar. Throughout, the album is paced, punchy, and full of conventionally high-quality sounds as far as indie music goes. The group's cockney lilt is a lovely bonus, especially in the high registers. But any ol' vacuous band is capable of "good music." The Cribs distinguish themselves by their seeming intelligence. Snippets of lyrics, like "nothing's changed since the '50s" (from "I've Tried Everything") or "I'm MT, because of MTV" (from "Major's Tilting Victory"), convey a charming rage against this era. "Be Safe," an avant-garde poem read to an eerie, irate melody, is a surprise of sublime proportions. At the least, it invites deconstruction over many listenings. The Cribs don't yet have that block of dark matter the Sex Pistols had. But for the 21st Century, it's a start.
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