Review Summary: We should forget these setbacks and get back moving again
Theres really nothing quite like discovering a new favorite record. Sifting through dozens of other artists or hearing talk of a new, up in coming talent can lead to a new artist or record to fall head over heels in love with. This is where Pinegrove, and their 2016 offering Cardinal, come into play. A relatively unknown band, now is the perfect time to get to know them and their fascinating, powerful blend of emo, alt-country, and indie rock. Make no mistake, Cardinal is going to be one of 2016s most magnificent records.
The album opens with "Old Friends", introducing us to lead singer/guitarist Evan Stephens Halls welcoming vocals riding a warm, familiar sounding melody as he muses about his hometown and getting reacquainted with some old friends. The song starts of sunny and calming, but suddenly takes a dark turn as Hall states "I saw Leah on the bus a few months ago,
I saw some old friends at her funeral". Hall steals the show with his lyrics and vocals, combining emotion and a literate vocabulary to convey his struggles and describe whats happening in his life. Its this incredibly solid and touching foundation that the rest of the band builds off of, mixing piano, drums, bass, and hints of banjo and pedal steel guitar to create a truly moving musical backdrop.
"Aphasia" is a slower track, opening with the lyrics "So satisfied I said a lot of things tonight, so long Aphasia & the ways it kept me hiding" and growing from there into an interesting gang vocal of sorts. "Aphasia" displays Halls unique vocals perfectly and also includes a wonderful atmosphere of sparse guitars and drums. "Waveform" is another slower track, a ballad of sorts showing Hall reflecting on a lover with lyrics like "In a little while I'll go unless you might wanna hang a while then I won't". Cardinal also offers up some faster paced tracks with "Then Again" and "Visiting", both being more pop-punk/rock tinged tracks that are upbeat but still as well-read as the slower tracks, the latter having an almost borderline shouted refrain of "I am out of my god damn mind and out to California!".
The final two tracks seal the deal and provide a stunning end to an already incredible, taut eight song record. "The Size Of The Moon" is a bit of a slow burn, featuring mostly vocals and guitar. Detailing a one-sided conversation of a relationship crumbling, the emotion displayed is incredible as Hall sings "Do you wanna die? Fine youre right, but I wonder what it feels like to stop feeling so alive?". If you only hear one song from this album, make it this one. "New Friends" brings everything full circle, another more upbeat track that closes the record out strongly, with Hall stating to make new friends and continue along, but still thinking about an old flame and being haunted by them. "Whats the worst that could happen?" says Hall "Its the end of the summer and I'm still in love with her". A powerful end to a powerful album, this is a record that needs to be heard. Albums like these dont come around very often and its more than deserving of your attention and love. Give it a chance, you'll be surprised. Whats the worst that could happen?