CRUMB Jinx gets 9/10



Psych-poppers Crumb make their trippy debut with Jinx, one of the year’s best albums. There are no weak songs from start to finish on this relatively short LP, but taken together, the tracks induce a hypnotic, immersive experience to take the listener down the rabbit hole.

Indeed, lead singer Lali Ramani sounds a bit like Alice having gone through the Looking Glass: she keeps her cool demeanour while softly crooning out impressionistic observations while the weirder stuff swirls around her. Set to a dreamy lullaby in the song M.R., lyrics such as “Deep in the night, I awake to a sound/ Is it mice on the floor, Or the pipes in the ground?” capture the free associative vibes that listening to Jinx induces.

Ramani’s hushed tones complement her sparse warbling guitar lines, and the occasional electronic flourishes or keyboard lines are deployed to great effect. Jesse Brotter’s bass playing is exemplary, providing a deep soulful undertow beneath the tunes.

A great pleasure of the songs on Jinx is the sumptuous melodies throughout. In music, there’s really no substitute for a good melody or hook; just like you can’t fake sweetness in food, or kindness in people. And Jinx not only has great melodies, but the arrangements are expertly sculpted to bring out the best of the components assembled. The songs move along to their own unhurried and languid pace, but with imaginative touches that keep them fresh and continually intriguing.

Take Part III, a deceptively titled two-part song that’s a master class in songwriting. It starts with a relatively cruisy feel – a nice bassline and keys – but about half way through it takes a side track to somewhere entirely new. At first the slower pace and unsteady guitar line gives one pause at where its all going, but next come a series of increasingly beautiful motifs that interlock and build upon each other, creating a feeling like gradually emerging out of a dark forest to a sunlit grove that you never expected was there. Simply brilliant.

Nina is a natural single, with Ramani beginning with child-like phrasings for the verses, before the floor drops away and opens to a floating-in-space bridge that transports you to a whole other realm for a moment, with a simple but truly mesmerising keyboard line added on the second time around. It’s a wonderful song, and no fluke either, as Jinx is filled with so many (at-first) counter-intuitive twists and turns that draw you in.

Fall Down is among the more pacey numbers and another catchy track, but the slower numbers such as And It Never Ends, The Letter and Ghostride are equally as captivating. But there’s a lot to explore and be charmed by on all the tracks on Jinx.

Jinx is not a perfect debut. The kick drum sound on Nina’s a bit too punchy, and its obvious Crumb have been influenced by their awesome record collections (including Tame Impala), but better good influences than bad ones, right? There’s similarities among the tracks too, like getting lost in a maze and returning to the same point after seeming to travel some distance, but that’s just part of experiencing the whole album.

The vinyl-only bonus track Better is also worth checking out: a buoyant yet melancholy pop song and a sign of good things to come. Although Jinx tends to be tightly focussed on a particular mood, Crumb have great potential so long as they keep broadening their vision and continuing to evolve their sound. Based on this debut effort, they certainly have the ideas and means.

But in the meantime, with Jinx, Crumb offer an enchanting journey to enjoy right now.


Comments are closed.