On their debut album Jinx, Crumb make an electric kickstart into what is shaping up to be a long career. Through heavenly synths, inspiring jazz progressions and lingering vocals, Jinx comes and goes in 27 minutes, leaving the listener wanting more.
“Don’t take me with you” marks the last expression uttered by Lila Ramani on the Brooklyn-based outfit’s debut LP Jinx. It is a sentiment that is quite familiar, and yet, somehow unique. A quick google search of that phrase will lead to a bunch a classic hits, such as a-ha’s “Take On Me” and Prince’s “Take Me With U”; the difference being in Crumb’s sense of individuality coming from that very first word. Constantly throughout the album, one might feel as though they’ve heard this before; the indie-rock-gone-psychedelic is a genre fuse that can be tied to artists as mainstream as Tame Impala. It is within these nuanced comparisons that Crumb thrive, taking that left turn, using that word “don’t”, making each song stand out from anything one has ever heard before.
Listen: Jinx – Crumb
Thematically, the album is a little hard to follow. The lyrics, while delivered over gorgeous syncopated vocals, feel messy. (Think of the Arctic Monkey’s latest project Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino). Lila is hopping from beat to beat lending more towards the groups overall instrumentation than a source of pure storytelling. A good example of this would come on the second track, titled “Nina”. It contains one of the most illuminating bridges to a song recorded in recent years. The keys falling like raindrops overtop percussion so crisp that it sounds fake, all to the buttery lyrics of
Nothing makes much sense you’ll see
Ripe fruit lands close to the tree
All this time won’t set you free
Take away the water
Nothing is left but honey
A lot of warm words pop up here like “ripe fruit” and “honey,” but much like the first line, they fail to convey much of anything.
This thought is not lost on the group themselves either, Ramani stating in a recent interview that, “It’s much more like I write a song and then realize what I was talking about after the fact. Like the songs are pre-written.” Where it might lack in structure, it does allow for this sense of anxiety that almost comes intuitively from being young. Crumb was never intended on becoming a full-time commitment and so the intensely rapid success it has achieved would scare anyone at least to some degree.
The composition of melodies throughout Jinx should not go unnoted. Tracks like “Fall Down” and “Part III” offer up some incredible psych-jazz riffs led by keyboardist Brian Aronow that feel as though they could last for hours without falling dull. This stability in production allows for the little effects here and there to shine, such as the quick “la la la’s” on “Fall Down”. These quirks though subtle, show the attention to detail and care that Crumb put into their sound.
The album comes to a peak on the eight track “And It Never Ends”. Perhaps the slowest track on the whole album, it creates a magnitude of emotion for build ups that just sort of wash over the listener instead of marking some grand gesture. The hazy guitar waves two chords back and forth, again and again, as Ramani’s voice fades out, never-ending. The soundscape creates this imagery of the moon eclipsing the sun. A dark, evocative rhythm that conjures up a feeling of the inevitable.
10 songs and only 27 minutes long, this first LP feels like just a taste of what the future holds for Crumb. There exists an indie rock trope that calls any lo-fi reverbed guitar similar to modern pioneer Mac DeMarco. This trope, while tired, lends to DeMarco’s greatness, and that’s exactly the kind of new-wave leadership Crumb are bringing forth. As their audience continues to grow, it won’t be long until a bevy of jazz-rock outfits spring up, making many think back to Jinx and the bands early EPs as well, causing a new trope to rise, “this sounds like Crumb.”
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