Crumb – AMAMA review | Nomadic New York quartet long for permanence on dreamy psych-pop journey 

On their latest album AMAMA, Crumb shift from detachment to seeking connection, delivering a deeply personal and sonically rich psych-pop experience that reflects their life on the road.

Until now, Crumb’s oeuvre has seemingly sought a sense of detachment: their immaculate 2019 debut, Jinx, floats in the midnight ether whilst dizzying 2021 follow-up Ice Melt sounds like the result of a band alleviating their anxieties by self-medicating on edibles. On their latest album however, AMAMA, Crumb are searching for connection. 

Whilst singer Lila Ramani’s lyricism has largely felt like an abstract expression to amplify the New York City quartet’s woozy psych-pop aesthetic, on AMAMA she’s clearly come to terms with being more confessional. She’s yearning for stability. As an artist living out your fantasies on the road for the most part of a decade, dislocation from reality tends to set in whilst home comforts slip further from reach. 

This theme of longing is present throughout. It’s even stated frankly in the album’s opener, ‘From Outside a Window Sill’, where Ramani laments: “Home is what I want and what I need.” ‘(Alone in) Brussels’ says it plainly in its title. The outpouring of emotions on AMAMA stand in equal footing with their odd encounters on tour, with itching bug bites on ‘The Bug’ and a eulogy for a turtle whose life ended under the wheel of their van on ‘Crushxd’ playing on Ramani’s mind, the latter’s celestial synths and fluttering progressive drum beats offer the late terrapin a soulful flightpath to the afterlife. 

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Sonically, AMAMA is of the calibre we’d expect from a band whose reputation fortifies with every release. Produced by Jonathan Rado, the multi-instrumentalists – formerly trained as jazz musicians – intrigue at every juncture with their delicately layered psychedelic-pop, a whirling carousel that’s irresistible to not to get swept up in.

Comforting like a fluffy duvet in a fairy light-lit den in moments, their predilection for off-kilter chord progressions soon leaves you feeling woozily exposed however, tearing away that same duvet like your mum’s last-ditch attempt at waking you in the morning. The alluring ‘Dust Bunny’ does just that, Ramani’s breathy exhalations plume like cloud-like pillows whilst the buoyant drum ‘n’ bass-esque breakbeats cut in with an anxious energy. 

AMAMA’s centrepiece however is its title track, a longing ode to physical connection with Ramani’s grandmother who sings in the Malayalam in the opening sample. A symphony of Ramani’s multi-tracked vocals offer up a kind of conversation that spans time and distance, like a long-distance call where both parties are desperate to feel each other’s presence. 

Crumb’s experimental tendencies lead AMAMA down an intoxicating twilight path, but one that’s bristling with the energetic momentum of a life in transit. Another entry into their mystic amalgam of psychedelia, jazz, and pop, AMAMA is grounded with a tangible craving for connection and the permanence of home, in what is the four-piece’s most accomplished creation yet. 

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