>> New York-based outfit Crumb releases their first full-length project, showcasing their signature blend of psych rock aesthetics and jazz conventions to create something that is both low-key and catchy.
Crumb, since their debut, has been a group that felt promising since their debut self-titled EP in 2016, with their 2017 release of the EP 'Locket' resonating as an even stronger growth in terms of sound and style. Those two projects were a culmination of efforts amongst all four members to take songs that lead guitarist and vocalist Lila Ramani wrote whilst in her high school and college days, and to turn rework them into what became those two project. With their latest release of 'Jinx,' it’s clear that the band was ready to continue that path of growth with material that was brand new and could embrace even more ideas. Ramani’s approach to her lyrics are still just as strong, which introduces a warm, clean tone that permeates through the rest of the record. The whole project has such a dazzling, glowing aesthetic to it, which produces something that feels somewhat akin to the visual of embers glowing after a campfire. The drums, guitars, bass, and keys are now met with a dreamy variety of synths that are quite reminiscent to that of dream pop or shoegaze, but the jazz core of the songwriting stands strong in the center of the project, providing a really sturdy skeleton for the rest of the project to build itself off of. The catchiness of the melodies and rhythms is also quite noteworthy- a lot of these cuts will get stuck in your head. There’s a somberness to Ramani's vocals, even when she’s singing uptempo, that makes the songs all the much more memorable, with “Ghostride” being a key example of this. The project isn’t wholly reliant on her, however, with the rest of the band coming in with moods and rhythms of every mood and variety- from the groggy and introspective to the dancey and uplifting.
The biggest obstacle that stands in the way of Crumb’s efforts on 'Jinx', unfortunately, is a lack of personality. While the previous efforts were definitely mixed less professionally, all of the instrumental tracks were very bright and clear, and Ramani’s lyrics and performance were much more bouncy and unique to compliment this, and here it feels as if she’s purposely holding back. The idea of mixing pop and psych skin with jazz bones was much clearer, and the whole ensemble felt as if they were sharing the spotlight the entire time. With 'Jinx,' it’s apparent that the more somber, glowing tone was chosen to ground the band in a new direction, while simultaneously cleaning them up to fit a more mainstream indie-pop demographic. And while there are certainly shining moments throughout the project, with all of the performances being particularly strong, one revisit of 'Locket' after 'Jinx' makes Crumb feel as if in pursuing new ideas, they fixed some things that weren’t broken- and that’s a touch disappointing.
'Jinx' is a very somber, reflective, relaxing album. It’s something that takes a listen or two to get lost in, but once Crumb has finally gotten you where they want you with that initial top layer, more and more begin to unfold, and you’ll find yourself wandering through the very same mental wormholes that the band is outlining for you. The structure of Crumb is what makes them so appealing, with their focus on matching vivid storytelling with virtuosic instrumental performance making them particularly appealing. With 'Jinx', they’ve yet to maximize their potential, falling into some classic growing pains, but they’ve at the same time organized a group of strong, eclipsing tracks. This is certainly a group to watch. 3.4/5 <<