The art of the outro: Crumb’s first two EPs

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Come for the singer’s voice, stay for the band’s instruments. This is how most of the songs on Crumb’s first two EPs make me feel.

Crub is a New York band that formed at Tufts College. The band is made up of Lila Ramani (guitar, vocals), Brian Aronow (sax, keys, synths), Jesse Brotter (bass, backing vocals) and Jonathan Gilad (drums). They’re described often as indie-psych, which I think is a perfect fit. Their music is spooky and strange, while still maintaining a sort of weightlessness.

Crumb’s debut EP came out in August 2016. Self-titled, it has only three songs – “Bones”, “Vinta”, and “So Tired” with a runtime around 11 minutes.

Short but sweet, their first EP boasts excellent examples of some of the features that make Crumb’s music so outstanding. Softer in tone than some of their more recent work, the weight of the audio feels lighter as well.

The outro to “Bones” is one of their smoothest. Aronow leads the show with his saxophone in one of Crumb’s most jazz-inspired pieces.

One of Crumb’s most defining strengths is that they never let a pattern exhaust itself. When Ramani stops singing, the instruments become noticeably more dynamic. Volumes change and repetitions become varied. Certain sounds fade out, and new ones come in. This keeps their outros and intros from becoming stale and exhausting the listener.

This is especially important for songs such as “Vinta” and “Locket” which run upwards of five minutes each. Crumb’s instrumentals rarely go longer than fifteen seconds without encountering some change to keep them fresh and engaging.

“Vinta” opens with single notes being plucked on a guitar before drums and a keyboard break into the song. Ramani starts telling her stories, creating characters who all show signs of poor mental health. “Night creeps down so he sleeps all day / But the future just seems so far away,” she sings in the second verse.

The chorus features a bubbly collection of strings, synths, and drums, which pause briefly each time Ramani starts to sing again. The second half of the song is instrumental. Tight and controlled at first, the music goes through dips and surges in energy, before closing with cascade of drums and bass.

“So Tired” closes out the EP, with Ramani singing slowly, but swinging into high energy after finishing the first chorus. The instruments follow her lead – the drums and bass take up more space once Ramani begins her second verse.

Crumb’s first EP serves as an excellent taste of what the band has to offer. Their second EP, released in 2017, “Locket,” delivers the same, with a bit more meat for the listeners to enjoy. Coming in at just over 15 minutes, the album has four tracks instead of three.

“Plants” is a well-chosen opener. We’re treated to a few squeaky notes before Ramani’s singing starts, almost like a chant. To me, the song explores drug use through a soft-rippling melody, using words that have doubled as slang such as “plants,” “grass,” and “bake” to hint at the meaning.

“Recently Played” is short, but it’s one of the few songs where Ramani sings for most of the duration. The lyrics again come in the shape of exploring something unhealthy, in this case a sense of isolation comes through. The way Ramani sings her closing line hits perfectly, and the short outro finishes the song cleanly.

“I hope they’re ready for the hot, crispy sound,” Ramani sings in “Thirty Nine” before her fellow band members fill the space with their instruments in a way that perfectly fits Ramani’s words. The song references a spirit that follows the speaker, although its nature is unclear and mysterious. Crumb’s music is eerie in a lot of ways, and the vague lyrics of “Thirty Nine” make a great example of this quirk.

The song’s outro consists of dirty synths and fresh guitars clashing in harmony. The drums provide a backdrop and waves of cymbal can be heard breaking through the rest of the instruments. The band keeps their outros fresh and changing, and “Thirty Nine” is no different.

“Locket” was the song that got me into Crumb with its stormy introduction. The sounds of rain and wind accompany rolling drums that mimic thunder. Ramani’s voice is clear and crisp during the verses, but she fades out for the chorus, as if singing through a wall. The song is describing the life of a person who lives in a locket, and this sound accents it excellently.

I recommend Crumb to anybody who wants something different. Ramani’s vocals and the band’s unique sense of style makes them an experience like none other.