Erin Tobey – “Work It Out” (Stereogum Premiere)

Erin Tobey’s forthcoming offering, Middlemaze, was written over the course of several years and is, at its core, an album about growing up and leaving youth behind. Its latest single, “Work It Out,” exemplifies that purgatorial state exceptionally well. Tobey explores a series of situations that could easily end in catastrophe and then asserts what the “responsible adult” way of handling things would be: “If it is not pretty/ Then do not make out/ If what’s burning is not yours then/ Do not put the fire out.” The Bloomington-based songwriter explained the thought process that wrought the song to us:

“Work It Out” is a song I’ve been playing for a long time by myself on guitar at shows — just a simple 2-string repeating riff and the snarky, self-involved-baby-growing-up lyrics. When we started recording it, it felt like a fun break because the song is light-hearted and pretty straight-forward and we had no plan for the arrangement, had never played it as a trio. I had borrowed my friend’s Lowrey Wandering Genie organ and was just goofing with it, with the bass notes and the genie chords. All of a sudden it was almost an electro-pop song! What a surprise! The solo suddenly sounded you were at the roller rink, and then I started bending the notes on the crescendo part and Mike Bridavsky who was engineering was like, “Yes! Do that!,” and later he affected the drums to sound clipped and distorted, like a drum machine. It was a really joyful afternoon and then it was done. It’s a song about how when you’re young and sad, you feel like you’re in a hole at the center of the universe – no pain but your own pain, no world outside what you can see. It’s about getting over yourself and crawling out of the hole.

Listen below to “Work It Out” below.

Tour dates:

06/4 Bloomington, IN @ John Waldron Arts Center ~
06/10 Bloomington, IN @ Blockhouse ^
06/29 Los Angeles, CA @ The Bootleg *

~ Appearing on The Mike Adams Show @ Limestone Comedy Festival
^ Middlemaze Record Release Show
* w/ Stephen Steinbrink

Middlemaze is out 6/3 via Let’s Pretend Records. Pre-order it here.

Tags: Erin Tobey