Leapling, “Crooked”

Jayson Greene

By Jayson Greene

on 11.19.14 in Listen to This

Leapling’s “Crooked” is a finely etched art-rock glyph, pressing every line of its shape insistently into your mind. The band is the project of Brooklyn songwriter Dan Arnes, and he arranges elements like sleek furniture in a bare white room. The instruments on “Crooked” enact a tangled conversation with no clear leader: A chording guitar hits the same off-beat every time, like a cheap old alarm clark, while the bass line burbles up out of silence every few seconds before fallings sharply away. Every drum hit and note seems to have been placed there by an eye dropper onto litmus. Threading its way through the wide, cool hallways of this arrangement is Arnes’ boyish, unassuming voice, which has the thin timbre and retiring stance of Ben Gibbard. The coolly enigmatic lyrics—”If the moon doesn’t show then the sun doesn’t know what to think”—feel decorative, like they’re in the frame just for the colors they provide than the words’ literal meaning. At the end, the guitars jangle like glass shards in a bag while Arnes repeats, quietly, “It’s always the same.” The song, from the band’s upcoming Inflated/Exploding in Sound release Vacant Page (Feb 10), has the feel of an obsession