A young man returns to his comfortable middle-class home, feeling triumphant after his trip to the record store. He is wearing a trilby hat, which covers his fashionably long, shaggy hair, a tight Babyshambles t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans, box-fresh from Topshop and ripped to perfection. He sits down at his computer, logging on to The Others' forum and pops his newly purchased cd into the player. A drum roll begins, and feedback starts howling out of the speakers; suddenly, two loud, unruly Northern voices yelp in unison:
_"HEY SCENESTERS! HEY HEY SCENESTERS! YOU ARE ALL IN TROUBLE NOW - SOMEONE'S GONNA COP IT NOW!"
The young man falls off his chair.
In the year since their fantastic debut, it could be said that The Cribs have got somewhat of a raw deal; overlooked by the masses, who are now scrabbling down the front of a toilet venue near you to get a look at the bands who have stolen their act. Despite the camaraderie shared between the bands (indeed, The Others have taken them out on tour at least twice), it seems The Cribs aren't happy with the fans they've acquired in that time, and their second album takes the discerning listener on a trip of the seedier side of the scene. In the first three songs alone, we're introduced to "scenesters", "chancers, like groupies with cameras", and "mirror-kissing hipster types". Brace yourself, then, for The New Fellas.
'Hey Scenesters!' kicks the album off in suckerpunch style; the chorus spits in your face, an unearthly mix of The Libertines and Pavement, made all the more abrasive by Edwyn Collins' sandpaper-raw production (giving the album a rougher overall edge) and effectively blasts the pop sheen of the self-titled debut out of the water by being harder, angrier and... well... better. Teaser single 'Mirror Kissers' maintains the high level of bile, with added pop sass, while 'Martell' is the kind of bouncy Britpop thrash that the Kaiser Chiefs would make if they weren't so obsessed with being Blur.
It's not all sarky bitterness, mind. 'I'm Alright Me' is a drugged-up tale of feeling fragile after one too many nights out, even proclaiming "Take drugs, don't sleep, have contempt for those you meet". For all the fans of the band's more romantic moments, they've been kind enough to include 'We Can No Longer Cheat You', the most direct pop song on the album, complete with 3-part harmonies and a bubblegum melody that will stick in your head until you forget her and move on.
The best track on the album, however, reverts to the bitterness with a vengeance. 'The Wrong Way To Be' is a ferociously intelligent tune (complete with a gratuitous disco breakdown) and sounds like Mark E. Smith having a barney with Idlewild. Singer Ryan rants and raves in his native Wakefieldian tones, casually dispensing the greatest one-liner of the whole album: "Your scene has got a lot to answer for" - and you know what? For not taking The Cribs under its wing, it does. Short, sharp and definitely leaving you wanting more, _The New Fellas could easily be the best "scene" album of the year. That is, unless the band start hating themselves for it.
Meanwhile, 35 minutes later in suburbia, the young man, visibly shaken, reaches for the hankies and changes into more formal clothes, in order to return The New Fellas in exchange for the latest Coldplay album and an Unstrung single.
8Alex Wisgard's Score