The Cribs, Concorde 2, Brighton

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The Independent Culture

Not that I would dare to confuse the white rose with the red (men have been crucified for less), but the Jarman twins Ryan (vocals, guitar) and Gary (bass) and Ross (their drummer and younger sibling) do speak in a camp Sheffield dialect - they use "us" to mean "our" in that typically Yorkshire way: eg "we're gonna record this for uz' next single" - which, combined with Ryan's cap-sleeved, cut-off, bicep-baring shirt, makes me wonder whether the location of the opening night of The Cribs' UK tour is more than merely coincidental.

Brighton, of course, is the gay capital of England, our very own San Francisco. (In case I've forgotten this, I'm reminded on the train journey from Victoria, by an obsessive ex-marine repeatedly counselling me against walking back to the Hotel Pelirocco alone after the gig, lest I am gang-raped by marauding homosexuals.)

The local pink population, if they only knew, would probably find much to admire in The Cribs. Much prettier in real life than in photo sessions (where they invariably look as though they've had a bucket of water poured over their hair and a pound of butter smeared over their faces), the Jarman twins have the pin-up potential of an indie Bros, with Ross as their Craig (or "Ken", as Smash Hits cruelly used to call him).

All of which might, with a following wind, threaten to eclipse their actual music. Which is, you feel, perhaps something of a sore point. After all, nobody really noticed their 2004 debut album The Cribs when it was originally released on Wichita. It's only after they toured with fellow Yorkshiremen Kaiser Chiefs (and shared a split seven-inch single, each band recording the other's song) that the weekly inkies - or, should I say, the inky - sat up and took notice, and splashed a review of their second album, The New Fellas, across a double-page spread. This may be why the Jarmans exhibit a heightened awareness of the politics of hipster-ism and vanity. Recent singles have such titles as "Hey Scenesters!" and "Mirror Kissers".

It's a subject which troubles them, almost as much as the subject of gay rape seemed to trouble my new friend on the train. Get this: "You were funny the other night/ You were just name-dropping/ Talking about scene hopping/ Dreaming of chart-topping/ I remember, just before I walked away/ Wondering to myself/ How someone that lives so much of their lives through other people/ Could possibly have so much to say." It's another irony, of course, that The Cribs are now the beneficiaries of exactly that kind of hipness. There are worse bands it could happen to.

As a shameless illegal downloader, I've recently become obsessed with a song called "Stop and Think It Over", which I once heard The Hives cover at the Reading Festival and which, via the magic of Soulseek, I tracked down in its original version by The Compulsive Gamblers. It's a charmingly shambolic garage-rock stomper in the style of the Flaming Groovies or Spector-period Ramones, with the killer line "I ain't no different than any other guy you've had before... 'cept I need you more."

The Jarman brothers, when they're not fussing over the minutiae of the music scene, are capable of the same sort of touching directness. "When I'm drunk I can be an asshole," Ryan sings on "You're Gonna Lose Us", "But that don't mean I've got no class (no)/ Why can't we have something going on?"

Musically, like so many of their peers, The Cribs display no ambition to blow our minds, push things forward or change the world. They make a serviceable, tuneful pop-rock noise, reminiscent of early Supergrass (say). They're decent, nothing more. But they know their indie heritage. Between songs, they lurch into a quick snatch of "Concrete Life" by Brighton-based Riot Grrl legends Huggy Bear, whose bassist Jon Slade is in the crowd (in accordance with a local bye-law, which states that no gig within Brighton and Hove boundaries may take place without him).

I walk back along the seafront alone, untroubled by scenesters (unless you count members of The Brakes, The Pipettes, British Sea Power and Eighties Matchbox) or gay rapists.

Some people need to stop worrying.

s.price@independent.co.uk

The Cribs UK tour continues to November

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