There are times when an album’s title can be literal. This is very much the case with Crumb’s second album ‘Ice Melt’. Throughout its 10 tracks ‘Ice Melt’ has a languid quality to the music. It’s like watching ice cubes melt on a table in the sun. You can see the puddle of water getting bigger, yet the cube appears to stay the same shape. As the songs progress, they appear to keep their form, but at the end you get the impression that sections disappeared along the way and what we are left with isn’t what we start with. This is down to Crumb’s line up and their ability to diaphanous soundscapes that bring in jazz, hip-hop, shoegaze swoons, electronica, and pop motifs.
Opening with ‘Up and Down’ we are gracefully introduced to a world of hazy melodies built around a ridged rhythm section. It’s this rhythm section that really allows the band to go off on musical tangents, as they know that Jesse Brotter’s bass and Jonathan Gilad’s drumming will keep everything moving. Over this Lila Ramani’s vocals gently rise fall and drift. Like smoke over an ashtray. You can see it, and feel it, but if you try and touch it vanishes.
The standout track is ‘Gone’. Opening with a vocal sample, ‘Gone’ then start up in earnest with rhythmic acoustic guitars, slowly pneumatic drumming. It has a 60s psych pop vibe to it reminiscent of Nirvana, not the other one. The real joyous moment is when Maeve Feinberg’s strings gracefully grow, swell, and vanish. On the outro to ‘Balloon’ the band really go for it. Everything distorts and more avant-garde motifs take over resulting in a sea of noise. In a way it’s a shame that ‘Balloon’ didn’t end the album as that feels like the right note to end the album on.
‘Ice Melt’ is a delightful album filled with clever melodies and delicious vocals. The songs sound like they’re just about to unravel, due to the lackadaisical beats and basslines, but never quite do. There is an element of “Will they make it to the end…?” Luckily, they do but sadly ‘Ice Melt’ as a whole doesn't make a huge impact. It’s great when I’m listening to it, but nothing really jumps out and lodges itself in my brain - perhaps harshly, it all feels like a puddle of slightly warm water where an ice cube used to be.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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