What would happen in a world where Wakefield’s finest, The Cribs, joined forces with Sonic Youth? ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ is the answer to that, a track featuring former guitarist Lee Ranaldo.
The seasoned Cribs fans, however, will know all too well that this is not the first time that the Jarman brothers have leaned on Ranaldo for a creative boost and, in 2007, the two forces famously collided for their song ‘Be Safe’ which featured spoken word verses from the Sonic Youth man.
The first collaboration, which featured some typically heavy guitar and raucous vocal delivery, offered The Cribs the chance to be a little more contemplative in what was a prolifically hectic period of creation and, on the new number, they have done the same with ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’. The song, with guitar contributions from Ranaldo, exhibits a chance for The Cribs to reflect. While both tracks are different on the surface, the premise remains the same.
“‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ (although ultimately quite different) came together in much the same way as ‘Be Safe’ did back in 2006 – we had a recording of a long, improvised noise-jam which we then tried to refine into a more cohesive song structure,” the band said of the song. “Due to the similarities in the writing process, it made us think of Lee again…we had initially requested that he play noise guitar over the track, because we wanted to keep it somewhat abstract and create the impression of the melodies just kind of emerging out of the static…but he went beyond the call of duty and also added some beautiful vocal harmonies too, out at the Sonic Youth studio in New Jersey.”
They added: “Working with Lee on ‘Be Safe’ was without question one of the highlights of our career as a band, and we think that ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’ is a worthy follow up collaboration. We are very proud of how it turned out. Lyrically, the song addresses the disconnect that Ryan and myself have always had with our biological paternal lineage – and how that may have shaped our views on masculinity, gender roles, and the men we ultimately grew up to be.”
While it is clear that The Cribs have put a lot of consideration into ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’, attempting to tackle what are some incredibly difficult lyrical themes, the song itself doesn’t hold up to their past creations. Though it is undoubted that some fans will have felt weak at the knees upon viewing the headline, it’s likely that the second Lee Ranaldo collaboration won’t live long in the memory in comparison to the one that came first. The song title, however, may remain a somewhat ironic reference the band and their output in recent years.
Stream the effort, below.