“I feel like I'm happiest when ideas are coming out of me,” Mikal Cronin tells Apple Music. “It corresponds to my mood: You need a certain amount of self-confidence to finish a song.” In the years that followed the release of 2015’s MCIII, the Southern California singer-songwriter grappled with bouts of depression, anxiety, and, by extension, crippling writer’s block. But then, finally, a breakthrough: During a tour with longtime friend and bandmate Ty Segall, Cronin (who plays bass in Segall’s Freedom Band) started working on a song at the back of their tour bus each morning as everyone else slept, singing and strumming just loudly enough so that he could hear himself over the hum of the engine. “I had been thinking a lot about the regenerative power of wildfires,” he says. “We were experiencing a severe wildfire season in California at the time, so it was fresh in my mind: the natural rebirth process that happened, the dead brush being burned away, dropping its seeds so that the next generation of growth can occur. I saw a parallel in our lives, periods of time when everything seems to be burning up, followed by a time of growth.” That song was “Fire,” the first of many that would make up Seeker, Cronin’s dark and directly personal fourth LP. Here, Cronin walks us through it, track by track. Shelter “The first line of this song (‘The seeker always finds an answer/It might not be the one you want’) is where the album’s title comes from. It seemed like a good word to sum up the entirety of the record. I was feeling overwhelmed by a crazy world and wanted to talk about it through the eyes of a wandering narrator. It was written in a period of isolation up in the woods of [California mountain resort town] Idyllwild. I was there about a month. With this song I wanted to start with a long instrumental, based on some repeating motifs, to bring the listener into the world I was trying to create.” Show Me “This one is autobiographical. In the four years between my last record and this one, the world has changed quite a bit. With someone like Trump as the leader of the country, it’s easy to feel confused, frustrated, and exhausted. This song isn’t directly political, but more about feeling tiny and insignificant as things get crazier around you, and wanting to escape.” Feel It All “While I was touring through Austin, Texas, I watched a young man on the street OD—and from the lack of movement from the ambulance, he didn’t seem to make it. I’ve never been a fan of hard drugs, and thankfully have stayed away from them. But unfortunately, like most people, I’ve had people in my life fall to drugs. This song is anti-hard-drug, while also exploring my own journey.” Fire “During my third week in Idyllwild, there was a huge forest fire that forced me to pack up my studio and evacuate. I had a full drum set and amps and a ton of guitars and a bunch of keyboards—a lot of it borrowed from friends, so I really didn't want to leave anything just in case the house would catch fire. I had my cat up with me, Ernie. He was hiding under the bed for the last half hour, and the final struggle was trying to get him out of the house as well. It’s interesting that I had written a song all about fire before this happened, but it just goes to show you where my head was at. The premonition felt surreal.” Sold “This song is maybe my favorite on the record, because it was a challenge to write and perform. I find it hardest to write very minimal songs, depending on just a voice and a solo instrument. I wanted a taste of that minimalism juxtaposed by a bigger arrangement coming in at the end. The backing band on this track are Marc Riordan on drums, Ryan Weinstein on bass and acoustic guitar, and William Tyler on guitars.” I’ve Got Reason “I was going for something like ‘The Beatles in a bad mood.’ I like the dueling guitar sounds and the stop-start feeling. Lyrically, it follows a confused narrator through a confused world. I wanted to present some strange scenes and have the listener sort them out.” Caravan “I wrote this one in my garage with whatever instruments I had lying around, so it came together in a really organic way. My neighbor is cool but can definitely hear me singing through the walls, so I don’t do much recording at home currently. I think she was out of the house this day, because I didn’t hear any backlash after my pots-and-pans-as-drums session. That’s me on the tenor saxophone, on loan from [Oh Sees frontman] John Dwyer. Thank you, John!” Guardian Well “This is a kind of mission statement for leaving the city you’re living in to spend some reflective time in the woods. It’s also reflecting on depression (‘I don’t know how to see this world through eyes like yours’) and isolation (‘What am I doing here?’), two things that tend to pair up in my world. When I get depressed I tend to isolate, and isolation can just make one more depressed. It’s easy to get caught up in that cycle.” Lost a Year “The title of this song says a lot about it. It’s about time getting away from you, and if you’re not careful you can lose a lot of valuable time to nonsense. Having four years between records is the longest break I’ve taken from my own music since starting to release records, and because I kept busy and life just keeps moving, the time flew by.” On the Shelf “Inspired by a conversation with my partner about the frustrations of trying to live a creative life. It can be really hard to get your feelings across, in whichever art form you’re working in. My girlfriend is a writer and was having a hard time getting work done. This is a love song to her with some words of encouragement that she’ll find her voice and get her novel written.”

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