Pinegrove
Amperland, NY


4.5
superb

Review

by Colton USER (8 Reviews)
January 18th, 2021 | 75 replies


Release Date: 01/15/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pinegrove decides their old music just isn’t quite good enough, so they make it better

It’s not immediately apparent what makes Pinegrove stand out the way they do in the world of indie rock. On the surface, there’s nothing unique about their playing style, instrumentation, or subject matter. But once they’ve sunk their hooks into you it’s honestly hard to name a band that sounds like them. Their blend of strong, heartfelt vocals, laid back yet rhythmically satisfying instrumentation and honest indie sadboy lyricism makes for a very compelling listen. And the fact that they literally just rereleased 21 old songs, yet they sound so fresh and interesting, is a testament to that.

Amperland, NY contains most of the best songs from Pinegrove’s last 4 albums, with the exception of Cardinal for whatever reason. Over the span of those 4 albums they shifted slightly from emo-tinged indie rock to, uh, country-tinged emo-tinged indie rock, with their style remaining largely the same over the years, but becoming incrementally more atmospheric. Amperland, NY mixes the sound of all their past work to stunningly beautiful effect. Their arrangements are as catchy and pleasant as ever, but the increased prominence of twangy slide guitars and various alt-country sounds lends an increased sense of atmosphere, while slight additions and variations on old guitar and drum patterns breathe new life into these songs. They found a way to really lay that atmosphere on thick, while also ensuring the instrumentals are consistently interesting. These elements really compliment each other here rather than taking away from each other. And the fact that the sound is so dense here adds a lot of energy, like on the brief “Overthrown,” which has maybe their “heaviest” sound to date, which only adds to the power Evan’s vocals have.

There’s no understating just how excellent his vocals really are. He doesn’t even have to be singing yet for these songs to lull you into a feeling of serenity, but once they do, it makes for something truly unique and special in the world of indie rock. There’s a million singers who have a similar voice to him, but very few even come close to being as emotive. This makes simple sentiments in his lyrics hit hard, and it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the subtleties of the vocal melodies here. He makes some slight changes that really go a long way, and has an excellent sense of when to give an impassioned, cathartic performance and when to dial it back in. Some slightly inconsistent mixing hinders the vocals just slightly (as well as the bass) but ultimately they’re the star of the show, and he’s never sounded better.

Pinegrove really isn’t doing anything new here. They literally just decided that instead of releasing new music, they’ll re-release a big batch of their old stuff, but just... better. But rather than feeling like a deliberate, laboured reconstruction, it feels almost effortless. Like they’ve just improved as a band, and decided to improve on their current body of work because why not. If you’re not a fan of this style of music in general this won’t do anything to win you over, but if you’ve found them to be just alright, the way they’ve fleshed these songs out, combined with the charm of the pseudo-live setting, might just win you over.



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user ratings (66)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Colton
January 18th 2021


9122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Couldn’t let this not have a thread

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2021


1158 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great write up man. Never really got into these guys, would you say this is a good one to start with?

Colton
January 18th 2021


9122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, and if you’re into the alt-country vibes, then yeah definitely. Otherwise I’d start with one of their first two. Most people would probably recommend Cardinal first

JS19
January 18th 2021


7730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not sure many of the tracks are better or worse than the OG versions, they just feel slightly different

Gyromania
January 18th 2021


32277 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hmm... cardinal is definitely my favourite of the two i've heard, the other being marigold which is pretty decent but nothing amazing. should i check?

JS19
January 18th 2021


7730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think you should check skylight instead of this cos it has some of their best songs on it despite not sounding properly finished in places

BigTuna
January 18th 2021


5520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First paragraph is spot on. I think they're so good in the way The Weakerthans are so good (with the disclaimer that The Weakerthans are god-tier and Pinegrove are not quite): they just make finely tuned, well performed, warm music. And they excel in the small things: guitar tone, cohesiveness as a band, etc. All stuff you can hear really well on this.

Colton
January 18th 2021


9122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually recommended this to Pheromone yesterday cause I know he's a big Weakerthans fan and this reminds me of them for some reason despite not really being similar at all, glad I'm not the only one



@gyro definitely worth giving it a shot for sure, but I agree with JS you might like Skylight. This has a bunch of Skylight songs on it though

JS19
January 18th 2021


7730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeha Weakerthans are my favourite band and Pinegrove instantly connected when i first heard them i think because of that

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2021


34981 Comments


never heard anything that impressed me from these guys aside a couple of tracks on Cardinal, but this is a cute gush so maybe I'll check anyway. nice

"with the disclaimer that The Weakerthans are god-tier and Pinegrove are not quite"

lol yes, obvious similarities aside this is just a cruel comparison for Pinegrove

"There’s no understating just how excellent his vocals really are."

rest of this para is good gravy, but this sentence sounds like neek talking about Punisher

Digging: Xiu Xiu - OH NO

BigTuna
January 18th 2021


5520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Evan covers John K Samson/Weakerthans songs all the time so I mean he's inviting the comparisons, the poor guy

Colton
January 18th 2021


9122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lol fair enough Johnny. Can’t think of what to change it to though. Maybe I could just chop it off altogether



And ok you can listen to it if you want just don’t ruin that beautiful 4.7 we have going on...

mynameischan
Emeritus
January 18th 2021


1793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. But it is worth noting that this is technically the soundtrack to the film of the same name. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube

Colton
January 19th 2021


9122 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah you're right, probably should have watched that before writing this. This definitely stands on its own though

Feather
January 19th 2021


6716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad this has a thread. As a huge pinegrove fan, I was very happy and impressed with this ... I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t even recognize some of their recreations of songs off of meridian and everything so far! Peeling off the bark and on jet lag are a couple of my new songs by them now.

fogza
January 19th 2021


1266 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Maybe I should check, I always liked their Audiotree performance more than the recorded versions, I feel like they sound almost better pseudo-live.

Digging: The Great Yawn - The Waves? The Tide and The Moon

Feather
January 19th 2021


6716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@fogza they acknowledged in the Q&A at the end of the video that when addressing why they made this, one of the primary reasons was "people really seemed to love our Audiotree performance, so why not do something similair"

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
January 19th 2021


2206 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review!

madrigal30
January 19th 2021


1200 Comments


yyyyyyikes

BigTuna
January 19th 2021


5520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm very glad this can function very much as a standalone live album release, because I can't handle the faux-Wes Anderson twee vibe of the film trailer. Doubt I'll watch the full thing.



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