'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever' saw the ever-loyal Wakefield band stick with their long-time label 'Wichita Records' in the UK, but it marked their first major deal when they signed with Warner Bros. Records in the United States. With more finances on hand than ever before, the band recruited Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and decamped to Vancouver to begin the process.
The album itself begins with the call to arms of 'Our Bovine Public'. Despite the band now being darlings of the mainstream music press, they retained their cynicism about the modern music industry. Casting scorn on copycat bands and the press' hold over the record buying public, it was a quick reassurance for long time fans that their newfound profile wasn't about to curtail the use of their vicious tongues. 'Girls Like Mystery', on the other hand, sees Ryan turn the lens on himself and his "two years history" with an unnamed lover. It's a theme returned to several times across the album, as (later single) 'Moving Pictures' suggests that previous lovers "dream dreams where I would die", It's testament to The Cribs' songwriting that they manage to bury this sentiment within tracks that can still get huge venues moving.
'Major's Titling Victory' sees the band at their brattish, punky best, as they aim their crosshairs at the mainstream media once more, this time focusing their wrath on MTV. Taken alongside the thematic nature of other tracks and the idea of struggling to "find time for her", we're given the juxtaposition that the band seem to be taking aim at fame and celebrity just as they begin to move into that categorisation themselves. It's an irony which has remained constant throughout the band's career; a seeming kick-back against whatever they'd be expected to embrace.
'My Life Flashed Before My Eyes' is one of the many huge choruses on the album. Perhaps these pop snippets are the root of the band's successful formula; each album contains more catchy hooks than most of their peers manage across an entire career. Despite this high hit-rate with radio-friendly anthems, 'Be Safe' highlights the fact that the band had no intention of resting on their laurels for their most high-profile album release to date. Securing the talents of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, the band delivered a striking spoken word performance, with an equally engaging video (but they still couldn't resist the catchy chorus!)
The album's climax is not the all-out jam session we've come to expect from their live show, but one of their most sedate offerings. 'Shoot The Poets' sees Ryan lamenting the concept of truth in a modern age accompanied only by his trusty acoustic guitar. Over the course of its twelve tracks, 'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever' manages to paint a complete picture of a band in flux. A band seemingly uncomfortable with their increasing level of fame, but more than capable of crafting the songs needed to sustain their growing profile. Ten years on, a number of the songs are still highlights of their live set, which speaks volumes given the quality of material which has come through the band's maturity. This May they will tour the album in full to celebrate the milestone birthday of their breakthrough release. The full tour dates are shown below.