Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Jinx, the debut LP from buzzy indie rock quartet Crumb.
This isn’t supposed to be what the future is like. We’re all attached to phones and anxious and burned out. The technology that was supposed to make our lives better is making our lives worse. The social network we signed up for to share pictures of high school and college parties on turned out to be selling our info and selling out every website we like to read. Google took the “don’t be evil” part out of their Code of Conduct, which seems like not enough of us have talked about? Our parents could buy a house, and we’re going to be lucky to not have roommates. It’s enough to make you lose your fucking mind, and retreat into headphones.
Which is to say, when Crumb singer Lila Ramani sings “Remember when we were young and we could do anything,” and “The city is dense, and it makes me tense and it makes me tense and it makes me tense and it makes me tense and it never ends and it never ends and it never ends and it never ends and it never ends and it never ends and it never ends,” on “It Never Ends” one of the standouts from Jinx, you realize this is a band making music for these nervous and anxious times. There is no sonic comfort that’s more welcoming when you need to engage in some mindless staring into the void than Jinx, a true headphones record that sprawls and unfolds the more time you spend in its environs. It’s a weighted blanket that you can wear when it’s sunny out and you still feel overwhelmed.
Jinx is Crumb’s debut LP, following two rapturously received EPs they made while at Tufts University that made them the belles of the indie rock ball. Instead of signing to any number of labels, they stayed independent, self-releasing Jinx and doing things their own way, making, as they put it in an interview with Pitchfork, “music you listen to when you’re by yourself.” Ten tracks in a shade under a half hour, Jinx travels in soft-rock psychedelia, the kind that can soundtrack an acid trip as well as a panic attack. “All that I want it is to feel something nice,” Ramani sings on “M.R.,” literally summing up the pleasures of listening to Jinx within the album itself.
Jinx culminates in its lightly funk closing title track, which splits in its back quarter into a searing guitar solo that explodes momentarily before dissipating. Crumb excel in these tiny moments; for a young band, they have the nuance to not let any melody or figure get more than its fair time as the centerpiece. It’s the adding up of small moments that makes Jinx so consistently rewarding, so replayable, such a triumph, such a welcome relief from whatever else 2019 will bring.
Andrew Winistorfer is VMP’s Music Director and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 20 VMP releases, co-produced VMP Anthologies The Story of Philadelphia International Records, The Story of Quincy Jones, The Story of Impulse and the VMP Classics release of Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying, and executive produced The Story of Vanguard and The Story of Willie Nelson. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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