Careful's Eric Lindley captivated us with his album Because I Am Always Talking back in 2012, that reinvented the rules and canvas tableau of the solo artist. Efficient utilization of the various trade tricks that redefine and broaden the scope and reaches of home recording; Lindley's music found us discussing and re-examining songwriting, composition, effects and mixing in new lights. As our conversations and exchanges continued, Eric wrote us an editorial on the topic of autotune, effort, and theoretical propriety. Carrying on this self-made tradition, Careful's audio exhibitions of caution, and personal projections continue to be delicately channeled through electronic advancements by way of technological enhancements that challenge the roles and styles of what the singer and the songwriter can do.
After self-releasing his previous works, we are happy to announce that Careful has found a home at Circle Into Square, preparing an ambitious album of new hopes, The World Doesn't End. Available in late April, the full-length finds Lindley making the transition from LA to Brooklyn, adjusting to new environments and taking on the new challenges with creative ingenuity. It is our pleasure to premiere “Didn't He Die?”, the opener from the forthcoming album presents electro options and alternates to endgame ideas.
The song's main chord progression tumbles like foreign synthesized strings, while big blasts of even brighter keys break Eric's emotional-but eclectic delivery. The Careful reflective pause takes the time to scan the outlooks of happiness, both past, and future. Sung in hushed exchanges with all of the arranged stems, the emergence of an electronically effected effiminate voice also supplied by Lindley adds a layer of strange dialogues and further discourse. This latest development in the Careful compositional canon not only solidifies a definitive and signature sound, but perfects the 'out of body experience' in a song. Like the inventory of everything accumulated and added up on “It's Funny“, Eric observes an entire life lived and loved to it's fullest that continues on in the imperfect tenses of “Didn't He Die?” This is a life flashing before your very eyes displayed in the corrective immortal achievement of the lyrics, “I don't smoke now, I promise you I'll never die”, to the unwritten tomes that tomorrow holds like “our future is looking bright as bedsheets.”
We welcome the return of the great Eric Lindley, aka Careful, and the interview you're only going to read here.
How do you feel the transition from LA to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn has impacted your work?
It's a funny place; so much going on, so many good people, and so little time to do anything or see anyone. Space is harder to come by here, and walls are thinner, at least at my current apartment, so I can't make as much noise as I could on the last album. I had to figure out some tricks to make songs feel 'louder' without actually singing too much above a speaking voice. There's also a little more tension in the city, with both the density and diversity of people packed together, so I think more of that bleeds into the album naturally—that the songs are more chunked into discrete blocks of time, as opposed to the music on Because I Am Always Talking, which seemed more spacious, like there weren't any boundaries on the time I was filling.
Being your fourth album, how do you feel you have developed as an artist and singer-songwriter?
It's hard to say from here, and I always worry about the trade-offs of working in one field or in one format for a long time. There can be something lost with experience and study, which is that habit or received ideas can take the place of exploration and inspiration. And it's impossible to really tell when that starts to happen, so I've tried to safeguard against these things by taking more risks with each album: trying new sounds, building more sounds from scratch, singing with this weird, processed lady-voice. I feel like if any kind of narrative could be imposed on what I've been doing it would be about the final product getting closer to the sounds I hear in my head before recording; tightening the link between intention and final product—though I still leave a lot of room for happy accidents that can make it to the end.
Like some of the upbeat Eastern sounding production and arranging of, “Didn't He Die?” to the message of The World Doesn't End; is this the hopeful Careful album?
Maybe—I like it somewhere in the middle of hope and bleakness. I borrowed the title from a beautiful, beautiful book of poetry by Charles Simic, and I think that there may be some commonality in how he's using it and how I'm trying to: that if the world doesn't end, maybe it's a hopeful thing, because no one gets swallowed in a ball of fire, no one blows up, nothing gets wiped out all at once or slowly dwindles away—but at the same time, there's a menacing aspect to that as well, that if the world doesn't end, then we're always stuck with ourselves, in a space that doesn't benefit from the charmed, fatal qualities of some Armageddon.
Instead of the magic of an ending, we just have endless waste, joy, cruelty… good and bad things, without any meaning or culmination—just being. This is getting dangerously pretentious, but I feel like the pleasure of ghost stories, stories of the afterlife, or even books and movies about magic like Harry Potter, or fables of people with extraordinary abilities like the Bourne series or X-files or Sherlock Holmes—these are fantasies of something special happening to someone, somewhere that imposes meaning on everything around it, because these abilities lock in with what begin to seem like the very intentions of the world itself. Fables of special people or special events, like the end of the world, make us feel like something matters, whereas, if the world doesn't end, it suggests that coincidence—and not intent—is the driving force of existence. Which, in spite of occasionally being deeply sad and scary, is okay, because it has to be okay.
So yeah, somewhere between bleak and playful.
There is a kind of friendly fatalism at work, the back and forth presence of male and female vocal effects and lines like “when we were married, all of my hair fell out.” What is the importance to you in bringing both sides of the conversation, argument, fallout, and song of departures and new beginnings through new techniques via the solo artist?
It's been really weird to think of this other voice while making the record. Even though it's just me, through some filters, it's confusing to listen to, because it just sounds like another person to me, talking through the songs to yet another version of me.
Having a sounding board to work out ideas in the songs was nice—way less claustrophobic, but also more room for argument, mutual disappointment and conflicting needs and desires. I think it upped the intensity of the album, though there's maybe a winking, 'this isn't real' element that pulls back-to-earth anything that might otherwise be melodramatic.
Careful's projections, predictions, and hopes for spring, and summer?
Playing shows in NYC! Working on more music—trying to take these voices/characters further. If this album was more maximalist than usual, I might do something super-minimal next time, but I have a tendency to do the complete opposite of what I plan to, so we'll see.
Careful's The World Doesn't End will be available April 22 from Circle Into Square.