Eric Schroeder finds revelation in the darkness on “Stayed the Same” [BPM Premiere]

Music is a study in contrasts: antagonistic tones resting perpendicular to one another, melodies serving the desires of conflicting perspectives, lyrical worlds bound and unbound as syllables are stretched and shaped. And for San Diego songwriter and rhythmic polymath Eric Schroeder, music is a reflection of a life similarly filled with contradictory experiences and unresolved emotions pulling us in all directions at once. His songs inhabit worlds of intimate ache, anxiety, and a hard-pressed hope that lingers like smoke after a fire. Culling bits and pieces from pop, rock, and Americana histories, his work is constantly shifting its musical focus, rarely staying in one genre for very long – opting instead to test the confines of each aesthetic before pressing on to the next.

His understanding of his influences, tracing a line from the Beach Boys and Townes Van Zandt to Elliott Smith, has taken him through countless musical iterations and melodic belief structures. His desire to reshape the sounds around him, and those echoing in his head, is on full display throughout Turned on the Stereo, his latest album due out in April and the first with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Kurt Vile). A certain perfectionism fuels his creativity, as well as the curious contours of this latest collection, acting as both obstacle and inspiration, allowing him to funnel the energy and unease of youth into the foundations of each track.

Schroeder offers up our first glimpse of the album with “Stayed the Same”, a pop-rock rambler with a buzzy strummed gait and acres of melancholy lyricism. Echoing artists like The Pernice Brothers and Magnetic Fields, he douses the surroundings in cascading harmonies and upbeat rhythms with each line moving us closer to an increasingly pitch-black worldview. Revelation is devastation and awareness; flashes of specific moments in time blur in a whirlwind of emotion and memory. The song presents an impressionistic tableau enveloped in a slightly folky jaunt, a shuffling rumination on apprehension and self-doubt with just the slightest sliver of light to fill in the cracks.

Schroeder offers his interpretation of the song: “Word salad poetry gobldy-gook. Images. Comforting at times, unsettling at others. It doesn’t mean much emotionally when I sing it, I just sit back and watch the pictures.”

Listen to the song below.

Schroeder’s new album, Turned on the Stereo, is due out April 26 via Enabler No. 6 Records. Pre-order the single here. Follow him on Instagram.