With their 2019 debut album, Jinx, New York City psych-rock outfit Crumb delved into the miasma-like fog of life’s chronology, composed of labyrinthine twists and turns dotted with worthwhile moments. On their new album, Ice Melt, they “return back down to earth,” according to singer/guitarist Lila Ramani, probing the “real substances and beings that live on this planet.”
Birthed in 2015, while Crumb’s members were at a Boston university, they released their self-titled debut EP, followed by 2017’s Locket, a collection of jazz-flavored psych-rock songs. Crumb’s unique sound extends from Ramani’s gift for songwriting, as well as Bri Aronow’s feel for structuring singularly moving soundscapes imbued by Jesse Brotter’s finessed basslines and Jonathan Gilad’s ghostly buoyant drumming. When all the parts blend, the result is translucent melodies imprinted with elements of pop, jazz, electronica, shoegaze, and hip-hop.
Made up of 10-tracks, the album starts off with “Up and Down,” opening on low-slung strident tones flowing into a blurry melody riding tight percussion and a fat, rolling bassline. Ramani’s dreamy voice glides overhead on smoky timbres. Shifting harmonics give the tune a disconnected milieu. Highlights include “Seeds,” merging tints of jazz, psych-rock, and shoegaze into a gleaming, mist-filled tune rife with glistening accents and whooshing washes. Gilad’s drums hold this song together, giving the sonic tendrils room and time to breathe.
Probably the best track on the album, “Gone” rides Gilad’s rounded drums topped by psych-pop savors reminiscent of the ‘60s, simultaneously ethereal and lysergic. The end of the song, infused with cashmere strings, swelling and then dissolving, forms the icing on the cake. “Balloon” amalgamates the kaleidoscopic coloration of new wave and shoegaze, resulting in a keening, wraithlike melody akin to King Crimson covering Depeche Mode.
The title track closes the album, traveling on surf-rock-lite-laced creamy shoegaze textures, while Ramani’s lusciously wistful timbres infuse the lyrics with nursery rhyme-like suggestions. Gently glimmering guitars generate luminous glows of sound as the crunching drums and cavernous bass provide the rhythmic scaffold, allowing the melody to drift languidly and not float away. Crumb’s ability to fuse laissez-faire vaporous melodies with wandering yet solid rhythmic components give their music a surreal feeling of coming undone and, at the same time, permitting it to maintain harmonic concord.
Pervaded by creamy, dreamy vocals and deliciously fuzzy melodies laden with shiny nuances, Ice Melt is a beguiling album.