In the music video for “Crumbling,” by Oakland punk band Grumpster, lead singer Fayln Walsh tears off her baggy ’80s color-block shirt during the final breakdown, flinging her limbs with detached singularity in front of a golden-hour graveyard. Cut in between shots of the band playing live, this is the first time in the video we see Walsh drop some of her stone-faced lyric delivery as she walks throughout Oakland, passing through parking garages and convenience stores, plucking Pepperidge Farm cookies from as shelf as she mouths all of my tears have now turned black/and I forgot how to laugh.
Spiraling around her like off-track atoms are her bandmates Lalo Gonzalez Deetz (guitar), Noel Agtane (drums) and various friends, who intermittently palm her in the shoulder while tossing around a frisbee or shooting water guns, caught up in their very own picnic while Walsh continues her tired-eyed march towards the camera.
The line the agony and the apathy/have been dragging’ me down precedes the song’s chorus, one of its strongest — and funniest — lines. Grumpster seem to be leaning into their pathos for this single, the first offering from their full length Underwhelmed, slated for release in October on Asian Man Records. With lines like I’ll sit and I’ll mope/and I’m all out of hope and/I’ll die in this town, it’s hard not to grin in recognition of some good old-fashioned Bay Area kid melodrama — because at the end of the day, there are much worse places to stew in your own dissatisfaction.
Grumpster has been releasing solid work for a while now, with “Crumbling” coming on the heels of February’s “Strangers.” Though the latter appears untethered from any larger project, it does serve as a clear bridge between “Crumbling” and some of the band’s earlier work, which would be hard-pressed to embrace the sparse instrumental drop that accompanies the chorus on “Crumbling.” Walsh has an interesting vocal delivery, her voice almost always level and matter-of-fact, even as the words come fast, like someone telling you the bare-bones version of a story to avoid breaking down completely. “Strangers” and 2017’s “Kairos” were looser offerings, Walsh allowing her voice to rise in exasperation and mid-crush panic, respectively. While “Crumbling” is catchy — and that instrumental breakdown at the end is killer — it will be interesting to see if Walsh decides to keep herself at arm’s length from the listener for the album’s duration.