Pinegrove
Marigold


4.5
superb

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
January 17th, 2020 | 219 replies


Release Date: 01/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Expertly crafted songs that are about getting better, if you want them to be.

A recent New Yorker article, titled “Pinegrove Stages a Complicated Comeback”, vacillates between trying to give the band the appropriate credit for making good music and focusing entirely too much on frontman Evan Stephens Hall, who revealed that he was being accused of “sexual coercion” in a 2017 Facebook post, though he only admitted to “monumentally misread[ing] the situation.” The piece, written by Kelefa Sanneh, sheds a little more light on the nature of the accusation, revealing that it was not a fan or groupie with which Hall had a relationship, but a member of the Pinegrove tour crew instead. Sanneh seems more interested in writing a Ronan Farrow-type exposé of Hall than an earnest attempt to understand Pinegrove’s appeal, and he has trouble describing the band without outright insulting them. Their music “fail[s] to be cool” and is “likely to elicit cringes” from people who don’t like confessional songs and from people who “demand fashionable innovation.” And yet, Pinegrove (“perhaps more effectively than any other band of its era,” apparently) “harnesses the power of a well-turned musical confession.” See? It’s complicated.

Perhaps it really is. Those who tried to find situational clues about Hall’s improprieties on Skylight would have been out of luck. That album was written and recorded prior to the accusation; its release date was pushed back after everything blew up. But, as Hall reminded Jenn Pelly in her fantastic Pitchfork piece, “Reckoning with Pinegrove”, the same person who wrote the Facebook post also wrote “I wanna do much better” in a song well before the storm clouds gathered. While Sanneh implies that Hall is making a mistake – or perhaps even betraying a fanbase that expects more from him – by continuing to write in the same semi-confessional, first-person style, what else can he do?

And what else can we do but listen to the music on the band’s own terms? If there really are people out there who cringe at Pinegrove’s lack of innovation, then it seems pertinent to argue that their music barely needs refinement, let alone outright innovation. Fronted by Hall, a talented writer gifted with a truly beautiful voice, and rounded out by some of the most dependable musicians in indie, they have mastered the art of guerrilla songwriting and could coast for years on the strength of their combined prowess in writing two-minute songs that end before they wear out their welcome (the abrupt silence that closes “Portal” still surprises two years later). Even so, Marigold does contain some changes. “Spiral” is made up only of amphibrachs (thanks, New Yorker!), describing either one day or one-hundred days, little reminders piling up, all with a single through-line: be in the moment at all times. The title track is six minutes of droning chords, beautiful and cleansing. At the end of opener “Dotted Line” sits an extended musical coda, a welcome digression from a band that rarely indulges in such flourishes.

That coda comes only after Hall seems unwilling to give in to a final chorus, even after deploying the falsetto that customarily signals the end of a Pinegrove song. “I don’t know how, but I’m thinking it’ll all work out,” he sings four times over, pushing the song past the four-minute mark that only a few of their songs have hit. A lyric like that could be interpreted as a privileged viewpoint – how could it not work out for the straight, white Hall, accused of so much less than others of his ilk and still with a dedicated fanbase? – but, again, what else can he sing than what he is honestly feeling? And there is something redemptive here, as there seemed to be with Skylight before it. Maybe that perception stems from a desire to find a redemptive arc even if there isn’t one (or shouldn’t be one). Yet here they are, and here we are, too.

Cardinal had a cover of large, interlocking squares that have been translated into many a tattoo. Skylight had just one, as if you were looking up toward the “low light at dawn” through hazy glass. Now, Marigold sees the fragmentation of those foundational blocks, still recognizable as the squares that have come to symbolize the warm, dependable honesty of Pinegrove, but now eroding and drifting apart. The first words on the album are, “Ignore the wreckage on the shoulder, I cross the border into New Jersey,” which, for Hall, represents home. Look too deeply into those lines and you’re liable to get lost forever. But the music keeps playing, and soon he sings what might be the best and most useful line he’s ever written: “May no fantasy hold my head up.” And I am struck by how much more true that sentiment becomes with each passing day.



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user ratings (162)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2020


1396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Pinegrove Stages a Complicated Comeback" - https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/20/pinegrove-stages-a-complicated-comeback



"Reckoning with Pinegrove" - https://pitchfork.com/features/article/reckoning-with-pinegrove/

Cormano
January 18th 2020


1857 Comments


neat

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2020


2865 Comments


really compelling, thoughtful analysis m8 < 3

Digging: Arthur Russell - Roulette

WhaleDickNachos
January 18th 2020


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review. I think this might be their best album.

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2020


2865 Comments


R.I.P. being able to access unlimited amounts of New Yorker articles on incognito

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2020


18051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fantastic review wow

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2020


9424 Comments


Lmao this review is spectacular fuck

Digging: Nicolas Jaar - Cenizas

Gyromania
January 18th 2020


29709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice 1 Chan. I've heard Cadmium and a few other songs I loved. Will check this out

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 18th 2020


33626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review that touches on sensitive topics with both realism and class. I really enjoyed Cardinal and Skylight, so my hopes are high for this. I've heard from many that this is basically an even more gorgeous and fully fleshed Skylight - if that's the case I'll fall in love.

Digging: Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud

alamo
January 18th 2020


2584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

endless is gorgeous

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2020


57161 Comments


very excited for this

Digging: Hot Mulligan - you'll be fine

tom79
January 18th 2020


3715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review Chan. I've already spun this a few times and am loving it.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2020


18051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I've heard from many that this is basically an even more gorgeous and fully fleshed Skylight"

:O

joshieboy
January 18th 2020


7275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, definitely interested in hearing this

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2020


18051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lovely album on first listen. Not sure if I prefer it to skylight yet tho

WhaleDickNachos
January 18th 2020


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"I've heard from many that this is basically an even more gorgeous and fully fleshed Skylight"



It is

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2020


1396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks everyone



i'm having a hard time comparing the quality of this album to skylight, which i think is near-perfect, but there are several songs here that can compete with the greatest pinegrove tracks. "dotted line" "the alarmist" "hairpin" and "endless" are all up there

HBFS
January 18th 2020


1370 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

alarmist song of the year. also no drugs flows so nicely from it! awesome review, more people need to be aware of this insanely talented band!

WhaleDickNachos
January 18th 2020


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

At the very least this one is more consistent. There’s nothing that feels half baked like Thanksgiving or Amulets.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2020


1396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah i like those shorter songs (especially "thanksgiving") but i have to admit that i like their relative absence here, save for "spiral" which i think is fantastic







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