PHOTOS & WRITTEN BY: Aaron Scofield
Evan Stephens Hall is no stranger to change, and Pinegrove’s long-awaited return, Marigold, reflects that. Described by the band as an “urgent, multivalent meditation,” Marigold marks Pinegrove’s first release since 2018’s Skylight, which aimed at a 2017 release but was derailed after a personal situation struck Hall. After no touring and limited contact from the band for about a year, Pinegrove made a quiet return playing a few solo shows by Hall and some full band shows around the U.S. At these shows, the band played their old fan-favorites, but concertgoers were also intrigued by a few new songs that clearly marked a change in style for the band. In the Fall of 2019, Pinegrove released singles “Moment” and “Phase,” and announced their return Marigold. Fans were, to say the least, excited.
Hailing from Montclair, New Jersey, Pinegrove have been praised for their honest lyrics, imagery, and genre-bending style that fans of the band (self-named as pinenuts) lovingly describe as “Midwest emo.” In place of the power strumming electric chords and cutting vocals of past records, Marigold brings the lap-steel of Josh Marré, slide guitar, and keys on some tracks.
The album begins with “Dotted Line,” a song drawing metaphors between state lines and the touch (or lack thereof) of a loved one. The album starts strong and introduces two major themes of the album: embracing uncertainty and acknowledgement.
The next track, an unexpected highlight of the album, is “Spiral.” Clocking in at fifty-six seconds long, it is reminiscent of the shorter songs off of Pinegrove’s first release, Everything So Far. The song consists of a series of trisyllabic lines. “Spiral” is poetic, steady, measured, and almost hypnotic. The final line of the song, “I see you,” is repeated several times, but it is an important one. It solidifies one of the main themes of the album, acknowledgement.
“…Drink water, good posture
good lighting, good evening
good morning, good morning
good morning, I see you”
“Spiral” leads right into the final single that was released promoting Marigold, “The Alarmist.” “The Alarmist” is clearly one of the stronger lyrical tracks on the album, and it builds and sways into a very memorable bridge:
“When you walk away,
You still exist and I feel good knowing it…”
The track closes as Hall meditates on and repeats a single line throughout the outro:
“Can I believe in the me before I knew you beautifully?”
The final evident motif on Marigold is a desire for a return to normalcy. Pinegrove had a tumultuous tail-end of the decade, and releasing Marigold in the first month of 2020 can be seen as a fresh start. Symbols of home, truth, and light are present in songs like “Hairpin” and “Phase,” which swiftly move into the climax of the album, “Endless.” This song slows down, evidently a ballad defined by Pinegrove’s signature midwestern feel. It is a song about waiting and long days, no doubt alluding to the band’s hiatus. The song swells and builds with acoustic strumming, soft organ in the background, and slide guitar, and it climaxes in one of Pinegrove’s most intimate and unforgettable choruses. The lines repeat with only Hall’s voice until the song’s end, which diverges into a humming multi-part harmony.
“When this is over,
When this is under,
A foot of water
Hold me forever,
Hold me forever”
The album’s finale, however, is also worth mentioning. The title track “Marigold” is six minutes and ten seconds long, coming in two seconds short of being Pinegrove’s longest track to date. Interestingly enough, “Marigold” has no lyrics; it is simply six minutes of billowing chords, delicate fingerpicking, and melodic hums flowing in and out. The track, as stated by the band, is meant for reflection. It is for the listeners to close their eyes, sit back, and reflect on the album and its motifs and values. Marigold marks a change for Pinegrove, but it was well worth the wait. The record is open, vulnerable, and an excellent portrayal of self-improvement. The new album marks a new era for the band in terms of sound, and more importantly, how Pinegrove wants to be perceived.
- Dotted Line
- The Alarmist
- No Drugs
Marigold is streaming everywhere and at your local record store from Rough Trade Records on January 17th, 2020.
Follow writer and photographer Aaron Scofield on Twitter @aaroncscofield