“Trophy” wows


Third Coast Review

vocalist Lila Ramani

“Trophy” is the latest single by Brooklyn-based indie rock band Crumb, and have I been waiting for it–Crumb is far and away my favorite band, and they’re one of the only modern musicians I actively follow, alongside similar performers like Melody’s Echo Chamber.
The single was dropped alongside a music video on March 10 with only a day’s notice. “Trophy” marks the first new release by Crumb since their debut studio album, “Jinx,” in 2019.
The song opens quietly–Brian Aronow warms us up with a few humming notes on synth before the rest of the band jumps in. Aronow stays quiet for most of the song, but he accents Lila Ramani’s vocals and the rest of the band’s instruments in a way that really makes them shine.
The song closes with a similarly soft, dwindling synth–almost like windchimes underwater. The sounds call to mind the lighter sensations of Crumb’s earlier EP’s–their debut self-titled, and the second called “Locket.”
The rest of the song, however, felt more like “Jinx”–the instrumentation is heavier and deeper, and Ramani’s vocalizations match excellently.
“Trophy” has everything I want out Ramani’s voice in a Crumb song–soothing and steady as she sings the verses of the song, then distorted and overbearing as she chants the chorus.
Jesse Brotter’s bass plucking is tight and warm, not nearly as drippy and wet as is in “So Tired” of their first EP. This gives “Trophy” a distinct fuzz and heat–another aspect which Aranow helps bring to focus.
Jonathan Gilad drums gently through the verses, the kicking to fill space behind Brotter’s deeper bass notes. The gentle hiss of cymbals never really stops, but it fades into the background as needed to make room for the vocal track.
The lyrics of “Trophy” excel as well. They’re clearly addressed to figure of fallen prominence, with the title of the song and the line, “take your time cause it’s all over,” each hinting at their vanity.
I find myself thinking of a certain former president while the song plays–the chorus’s drowned-out, “that’s just the way it goes,” being a sour send off and a possible twist on the notorious, “it is what it is,” that the fascist once declared.
The music video, however, presents a different scenario. Haoyan of America, who has directed all of Crumb’s music videos, worked with Crumb alongside Truba Animation.
After a title card, the video opens with Ramani giving an acceptance speech to empty theater, a trophy of a strongwoman on the lectern beside her speech notes and microphone.
We’re also treated to some adorable close-ups of the boys in the band while they race around a go-kart track. Unfortunately, their race takes a turn for the worse, and their bodies get all sorts of broken.
The video’s pacing and themes pair well with the song–there’s almost always a trophy in shot, and the racing scene begins with the first rushing chorus.
The “Trophy” video doesn’t take itself too seriously though, and there are plenty of goofy facial expressions to elicit a genuine chuckle between the more intensely surrealist portions.
Animation from Truba unfortunately doesn’t come until the tail end of the video, when a crowd of cartoon trophies show up in the theater seats between cuts. Thankfully, The animation we do get is grotesque and creepy in exactly the way I’d expect from a Crumb music video.
The sudden presence of animation, paired with the second chorus and a shift in tone, was just one of the twists in the video that flinch and gasp on my first time through–the other coming during a slow, zooming shot of Ramani and her trophy.
The video has a distinct Crumbiness to it, which I certainly appreciate. There’s a tension throughout the whole video, and by the end, we’re left with more questions than answers.
That said, it didn’t feel quite as experimental and inventive as some of their existing pieces. While not my favorite of Crumb’s music videos, a title that goes to “Bones,” it’s still a great trip and definitely worth the watch.
As a song, “Trophy” skyrocketed toward the top of my favorite Crumb songs the moment I heard it–it rivals my longtime favorite “Thirty-Nine” for most enjoyable bassline, and the lyrics are comparable in craft to those on “Better,” a bonus track on the “Jinx” vinyl.
I’ve listened to the song shuffled into the rest of Crumb’s discography as well as looped for several hours, and I’m not quite sure how I enjoy it more–as a sparse treat or a constant pleasure.
Regardless, I’m decidedly in love with “Trophy,” and I can’t wait to see what Crumb gives us next. If we’re lucky, it come sooner than the next election.