Album Notes - Pinegrove - Marigold

Album Notes - Pinegrove - Marigold

January 26, 2020

"Dotted Line" opens Pinegrove's first writing and recording efforts following a convoluted and very public #metoo accusation with:

Ignore the wreckage on the shoulder
I cross the border into New Jersey
Where a dotted line from my antennae says
"May no fantasy hold your head up"

That's either a genius middle-fingered analogy, or a matter-of-fact statement Evan Stephens Hall sings to his pragmatic fullest. Considering Pinegrove's leader was well aware that anyone paying attention would certainly view his band's latest offering through the lens of what transpired as the album was being written, it's no doubt a bold way to kick things off. If only he took more risks on the Garden State group's fourth LP.

2018's Skylight was released after Hall was accused of "sexual coercion" by an anonymous woman who has since been identified as a member of the band's touring crew. Written and recorded before any of that transpired, it was subsequently shelved (along with Hall seeking counseling and Pinegrove going on hiatus) to honor the wishes of the accuser.

Fast forward to 2020 and Marigold marks Pinegrove's first new music post-implication. The band is back, very much doing what brought them ever-growing stardom and accolades in the first place. But rather than pushing the envelope, Marigold sees Hall and friends peeling away the stylistic diversity of their previous work, instead fully leaning into the alt-country aspect of their sound. Part of that process results in Marigold being the most polished effort of their career. It could also understandably be viewed as their most drab. While "Dotted Line" opens with ambiguity, its chorus finds Hall at his optimistic best:

'Cause I don't know how
But I'm thinking it'll all work out

Marigold may not stand up to Skylight in quality, but that doesn't mean its appeal is lacking.