Not Forgotten: ‘wrinkle’, the early EP from 2/3 of ‘The Cribs’

Prior to forming The Cribs with younger brother Ross, Jarman twins Gary and Ryan made a smattering of noisy goodness as wrinkle. The EP was recorded in 2001 at Springtime Studios in Huddersfield, through with Andy Briggs on drums. Gary Jarman recently discussed the band on 22 Grand Pod, a podcast celebrating seminal bands from the early 2000s era. Across the four tracks, the EP pays dividends to those that The Cribs cite as influences, Nirvana and Sonic Youth included. Ryan Jarman’s guitar style and tone also evokes the metallic nature of bands such as Shellac, sparse while also indelibly emotive with every note. But, even with these influences imprinted firmly, the consistently brilliant grade of Jarman song writing is as clear here as anywhere. An unpolished, raw recording and production quality, untethering the tracks’ intent? Check. The EP is as “garage-y” and uncompromising in succumbing to studio trickery as any selection from The Cribs discography, be it the Albini produced 24/7 RSS, or their debut; especially the noisome beauty of Third Outing. The Cribs’ ability to pour every essence of their experiences into their music, making songs of untarnished emotion, from vitriolic anger to vulnerability and regret. Check.

First track La Luminol, foreshadows the rest of the EP through it’s quieter, wistful verses but uproarious chorus. Said chorus has a torrent of distorted guitar with the vocal of “…nothing’s what you want it to be now.”, a pairing which sears itself into the grey-matter more with each listen. Other more subtly reflective and pensive lyrics from the verses are equally marvellous: “become anonymous/and I know/it’s too far to go”; making for a superb ‘cliffhanger’ leap to the chorus. Here too, the Jarman accented whine stretches the lyrics with further sorrow (i.e. with the aforementioned “know”), as it does on many Cribs tracks.  As the track trampooses along the meaty 5-minutes, it does so through a muffled spoken word giving soft and melancholic intonations, the cacophonic wonder of the guitar, bass and drums smothering it. The robust bass playing from Gary Jarman is very much wrinkle‘s rigid spine, also being the cantering ignition which begins La Luminol.

The brazen intro of wool box dc is like a continuation of the brazen ending of La Luminol, before this track inverts entirely, to be replaced by a lighter and more sentimental lead guitar with the seemingly tortured whine of “Spent the days indoors/It was most amusing…”. The lyrical gravitas continues with the chorus’ “…a peace of mind/I thought you’d never find/Move on to the same kind/Did you see it through? /You move onto the same kind”. Ryan Jarman carries these off as seething exhalations, impassioned energy in each word. The same is true of the vulnerability in subsequent line “Please don’t hit the lights/You don’t see what I’m seeing/Don’t want to know my flaws”. Here, like La Luminol, Gary Jarman’s bass is at the fore, especially in the magnificent instrumental section, in which Briggs’ propulsive drumming also resurges.

Third track the source of the flood sees more melancholic lines, conveyed with a captivating narrative and realism. “It’s a fine line/And it’s a big deal”, “…but you are still young, and it’s not too late.” The almost brutally forlorn nature of these lyrics, akin to Cribs cuts like Haunted or Simple Story, emboldens the track as a whole. Here, the lyrics involve more youthful themes, “and in school/I’m failing everything/It’s no big deal”, Jarman sings nostalgically, this “escaping-the-small town” a familiar theme Cribs fans have welcomed throughout their releases. Where the source really fulminates though is with the intermingling of the vocals and instrumentation. The nearly whispered “and it’s a fine line…” is performed alone, with the instrumentation’s burly return following the spiteful “and it’s a big deal”. The loud/quiet dynamic is handled perfectly here and across the EP. The lyrics of “Well I can’t stand I know I’ll fall/And if you’re scared, I know you’ll call/ Take the final breath/Take the final breath” are also hugely striking.

Canada cool demonstrates how the Jarman twins would synchronise their equally staggering and individual vocal talents in many Cribs tracks, with fierce vocal trade-offs, most notably I’m a Realist. Here one brother sings the massive chorus line, “You never stayed the same/And you never feel ashamed”, while the other’s evocative backing vocals interject between these, like another personality.

The EP culminates in a section of a woozily produced production finish, while Gary Jarman sings the most affecting, achingly yearning line of the four tracks: “…no one knows I’m here”. It then ends in a much similar fashion to the punky, discombobulating spectacle of The Cribs live shows, where the Jarmans hurl guitars into the heights of the stage, towards the audience, or scythe them against their amps in a dissonant feedback yowl. An equivalent strain of tension is achieved here, via Ryan Jarman’s squealing lead guitar reverie. Andy Briggs’ drumming, too, becomes phenomenally dynamic and fluid through torrents of drum fills with crashing snares and hi-hats. Both factors make an astonishing, improvisational finale.

The wrinkle EP is not only crucial for Cribs fans, but just as much for those who appreciate the unrefined, natural, pop-antithetical song writing and production style shown here.

Listen to La Luminol below.

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1 Comment

  1. Jarmaniac
    May 21, 2021

    It’s cool to see this EP getting some love. As a big fan of the Cribs, discovering Wrinkle a few years ago blew my mind. I’ve heard Gary say how it doesn’t really feel like their own music because of how much it was influenced by other bands, but I think it captures their essence very well. The distinctly lo-fi sound, a gut-punch of bittersweet nostalgia, vulnerable lyrics with bursts of punk energy, duelling vocals from the twins. It’s everything I want from them.

    Drummer Andy Briggs has posted in the Youtube comments section to La Luminol that there are several unreleased Wrinkle songs that he was trying to get a hold of to share, but I don’t know if he managed to. That would be a treat.

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