Album Review – Careworn by PBDY

Paul Preston AKA PBDY drops his debut album Careworn off the Brainfeeder label. A project years in the making, Careworn defies simple categorisation. It’s an ethereal journey through life and loss, a cinematic voyage through PBDY’s emotional turmoil at the loss of his mother and other, undisclosed trials and tribulations.  

Other than the strong thematic elements, Careworn is an expansive and musically dexterous offering, with a carefully chosen band of collaborators. Brainfeeder’s emergent signee, Salami Rose Joe Louis, the burgeoning Casey MQ (Unbuttoned), enigmatic chanteuse Anika and Future Island’s synth-pop powerhouse, Samuel T Herring are all utilised to great effect. Ageing hipsters may gravitate to the familiar virtuoso string playing of Miguel Atwood Ferguson.

Ferguson rose to prominence, within the electronic scene when his musicianship helped elevate Flylo’s Cosmogramma to classic status. Careworn, fortunately for listeners has brought the beauty of his playing to the forefront yet again and throughout Ferguson plays a central role in the cinema of Careworn.

Paul Preston AKA PBDY

Track by track the themes and musical arrangements are mutually reciprocal, the flow is procured with great attention. As early as its inception, Careworn expounds a collage of transient, synthetic sounds containing a mysteriously futuristic sound bank of aural interest. Suddenly and with a great deal of care, this collage morphs into something more tangible, emerging from the riot of sound comes breathtakingly harrowing strings, beckoning listeners towards a new musical terrain.

Featuring twice on Careworn are the surging vocal talents of Salami Rose Joe Louis. Louis’ appearances act as a propelling force for PBDY’s rich musical tapestry, fitting the mood and atmosphere sensitively and projecting PBDY’s themes of loss with aplomb. The track, At All Cost, is a haunting vocal that captures the eerie, desolation of the album’s themes. The mournful horns and background haziness colour Louis’ vocal, patiently opening, in an understated and gradual manner to reveal a hopeful end to the track.

Alongside these sombre tones, there also exists moments of visceral groove and intriguing interaction from the musicians on this record. The track So Help Me (Dog) is hard-hitting and attention-grabbing. The beat played by drummer Justin Brown, initially, is locked in and immovable but ventures towards a freer, jazz-inflected space. This track as a whole was such a feat of imagination, a welcome curveball to throw the listener and a moment that exuded swagger and confidence. PBDY has blended such a vast array of influences in such an organic, seamless way that without doubt So Help Me (Dog) is my highlight of the album.

It should be said that PBDY is a seasoned creative, having toured with Cinematic Orchestra and been integral to the Brainfeeder collective for almost a decade, so the quality of his output should come as no surprise. However, it is ultimately very impressive how PBDY has, from the onset, emerged a fully-formed creator. Musically, Careworn is very broad, interest gleaning and intriguing while simultaneously, it is thematically very moving and three dimensional. Careworn looks set to add to the legacy of Brainfeeder and as part of a trilogy of releases, it looks a safe bet to add to it further. In the meantime, rest easy that PBDY has more to get off his chest. 

If you were inspired by my gushing praise of this record buy/stream it here.

Leave a Reply