By Jackson Tarricone
Marigold is the third full length album from Pinegrove. It is the New Jersey based group’s first release with Rough Trade having previously been with Run for Cover as well as self releasing their superb sophomore album, Skylight. This album champions a cathartic sound that is distinctly Pinegrove. They have had their own sound, however, since 2016’s Cardinal. Pinegrove blends folk and country with emo and indie in a way that is somehow both familiar and unique. With each release, they have been leaning more into the former pair of styles; Marigold is the natural progression of this, with its prominent pedal steel passages and slightly slower pace, both of which shine a new light on what makes this band great.
“Spiral,” although just short of a minute in length, is one of the album’s highlights. Singer and guitarist Evan Stephens Hall says that the song represents the turning of pages on a calendar. The lyrics are composed of simple reminders (“drink water,” “good posture,” etc.) and choppy self-affirmations (“You’re mourning, The loss of, A feeling, A part of, A process, Of living”). Their mundanity is precisely what makes this song so powerful. Packed within each of these lines, even ones as simple as “Good Morning,” are entire days. When combined, these days make up entire lives of repeatedly acknowledging our struggles and reminding ourselves what we need to do better. “Spiral” perfectly captures Hall’s honest, introspective writing style, a big part of why Pinegrove’s music resonates with so many people.
The album definitely features more lyrical repetition than Pinegrove’s previous works. This makes the core sentiment of the song more emphatic, such as the perplexed optimism on “Dotted Line” as Hall sings “ ‘cause I don’t know how, but I’m thinking it’ll all work out.” The same occurs in“The Alarmist” as Hall asks: “Can I believe in a me before I knew you beautifully?” Even from these two lines alone, Marigold comes across as therapeutic, replete with plenty of encouraging mantras. However, there is an underlying sense of uncertainty in both lines. In “Dotted Line,” this is made explicit through Hall’s admittance that he doesn’t know how things will work out despite his belief that they will, and in “The Alarmist” through the thought being posed as a question. Despite this, hope shines through in Hall’s twangy delivery and the warm instrumentals.
One word I’d use to describe Marigold is symphonic. I admit that this is an odd choice for this album. After all, there is not one orchestral instrument on any song. However, it captures the band’s ability to be intense without being aggressive; even when everyone is strumming, hitting, or singing as hard as they can, the songs can still be beautiful. The epic crescendos and quiet moments divide the music into different movements, much like a classical piece. Along with that, this album features repeated motifs, such as in “The Alarmist” and “Moment.” In addition, “Moment,” the penultimate track on side A, foreshadows the instrumental drone which closes the album. The repeated motifs show that the songs are part of a larger work, which not many albums do today, especially not in this way.
All three of Pinegrove’s albums are incredible in their own right, but Marigold has a certain regality that neither Skylight nor Cardinal possess. It provides an endearing experience much like Wilco’s Ode to Joy, although these two albums sound nothing alike apart from the intro of “Endless” which is quite similar to “Bright Leaves.” This album makes you feel a wide range of emotions, some of which contradict each other: self-assured and lost, hopeful and hopeless, and many other conflicting states of being. The main takeaway from Marigold is that these opposing sentiments can coexist; things don’t always make sense, but we can still find happiness even during times of sadness.
Pinegrove played Union Transfer in late September of 2019. They are set to embark on a European tour after some US dates in other parts of the country. Pinegrove will be playing Governor’s Ball in New York in late June of this year.