“The World Doesn’t End” is the fourth full-length release by Careful, the meticulously crafted solo project of producer and multi-instrumentalist Eric Lindley. A transplant from a community of artists, electronics hackers and experimental writers in Los Angeles, Lindley recorded the album entirely in an ad hoc studio in his small, Bedstuy apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Aside from spot mixing by his friend Andrew Munsey, and mastering by Josh Bonati, the production is entirely his own, belying the rich, orchestral range of both setting and vocals, which he electronically altered to sound like a duet between himself and a female voice.
Careful’s music is warm, dark, and—until this album—somewhat subdued. This release marks a transition into something occasionally more aggressive, often more transparent and direct in storytelling. Each song is its own short story, centering on an endlessly bleak relationship between a man and woman, both voiced by Lindley. Certain tracks, like “Didn’t He Die” blend noisy, custom synth sounds and multiple interlocking layers of noise—a la Crystal Castles or Fuck Buttons—with complex polyphonies and polyrhythms found among the likes of Thomas Mapfumo and Joanna Newsom. Other tracks, like “Headlights; Mice-Like-Snowflakes” or “Unicorn” evoke Morrissey’s affinity for playfully hopeless storytelling within more classic songwriting structures. At the center is Lindley’s voice, alternately fragile and nimble, clear and calm, yet always on the verge of breaking, recalling in equal measure Elliott Smith and Chet Baker.
Lindley himself is a voracious consumer of media and ideas. After playing in a spate of ephemeral punk bands, growing up in Orange County, CA, he grew fascinated with music theory—how it exposes very simple ways that human emotion is both sadly predictable and brightly universal. He graduated from Dartmouth College with degrees in Physics and Music, abandoning the expected path in the footsteps of his great-grandfather—the Bohemian zeppelin engineer Karl Arnstein—to write songs and study music and cognition with minimalist composer James Tenney at art school. He is writer and performance/installation artist, and his albums betray a love of film, art and literature, referencing far-flung cult celebrities such as Harmony Korine and Vincent Gallo, literary heroes like Charles Simic, Robert Creeley, and (somewhat-obliquely) Nicholson Baker, and he has served residencies in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and New York to develop his work in biofeedback and psycholinguistics. As Careful he has played shows with many other musicians that straddle the art world, including Julia Holter, Mt. Eerie, Xiu-xiu, Lucky Dragons, and Anna Oxygen, and has been backed in live performance by animator Miwa Matreyek and members of the improvised music trio Dawn of Midi.