On the surface, Crumb’s sound might seem like a good accompaniment for a chilled-out evening, spent relaxing after grueling hours of work. Their sophomore album Ice Melt certainly fits the bill. It’s the kind of psych-pop that can get you moving with their grooves and elaborate soundscapes. Their sound design is on point and always interesting, filled with lush keys, intriguing songwriting and chilling performances from vocalist Lili Ramani. Spend more time and dig a little deeper though and one can’t help see the jagged edges, the haunting imagery, a sense of creeping anxiety that seeps in as the Brooklyn four-piece create a sense of creeping dread around the listener. This anxiety comes in the form of eerie lyrics, dissonant harmonies and an overall savvy for crafting these emotions in a way that isn’t immediately apparent.
To set an example, “BNR” starts dreamy, filled with kaleidoscopic harmonies that swell and transform around each other. Yet it’s lyrics talk of an unbelievable disease slowly consuming its narrator. “Can you believe / This whole thing? / What a dream.” With those words, the eerie music and the whole situation of the world, the message feels starkly uncanny.
Indeed, there are plenty of times where Ice Melt’s clever disguises caught me off guard. Fifth song “Gone” gave me feel-good shivers the first time around with its bouncy melody and a lavish sound a la Lana del Ray. Yet as I get to absorb Ramani’s words it transforms into a lonely tune of an old woman counting through the days of her final years. Most great art is multi-layered, shifting the listener through different emotions as they take another peek. I’ve definitely had multiple instances of that within this record.
Other highlights include the exquisite rhythms of lead single “Trophy”, with its caramel bass lines and a groove that melds the best of R&B and pop together. “Balloon” finds Crumb stretching out their musical chops with a rock swagger and sonic craftiness that could rival Tame Impala. The album closes with the title track, a sweet and nostalgic tune riddled with sharp riffs that contrasts Ramani’s dreamy recollections of a past she fondly remembers.
Ice Melt offers a flood of wonderful sounds. Crumb enjoys a genre fluidity that they’ve managed to harness to the greatest effect. One that sounds exquisite while channeling the emotions of our time. It’s this level of genius and innovation that should make anyone excited for the future of music.