Music Reviews

Pinegrove Marigold

(Rough Trade) Rating - 5/10

It’s been weird to be somewhat interested in Pinegrove while not entirely being a fan of them. When lead singer Evan Stephens Hall was accused of sexual coercion in 2017, their upcoming album Skylight was shelved and the band went on hiatus. Good riddance it seemed, but the band quietly self-released that album and went to work on the next project. Returning from what seemed like the end, Pinegrove announced Marigold back in October, with a recent New Yorker article focusing on how Hall and co. are working on changing, but the most haunting quote was still: “Hall has reacted less like someone who thinks he did an awful thing than like someone who thinks he has been thrust into an awful situation.”

Hall’s allegations haunt Marigold, a project that’s already complacent and plodding—turning it into something self-pitying and frustrating. The opening track, Dotted Line, is the most appealing song here, just because it positively concedes that “[He] doesn’t know how, but it’ll all work out.” The chunking guitars and steady drum work elevate the song beyond the boring trappings of a “standard” Pinegrove song, but it’s a bright spot on an album without a lot of them. By the time the organ and the fluttering guitar lick comes in, the song has almost worn out its welcome. No Drugs is aggressively twee and with its layered synth work, folksy-acoustic guitar riff, and Evan repeatedly whining “I want to feel good.” It starts to feel sickeningly sugar sweet.

You start to wonder if there’ll be any change in the texture here, even if the crunchy opening chords of Moment creates a false promise. Despite its strong opening, the song feels undeniably nasal with the singalong of “I’m scared to know, but I need to know!” The most insulting moment overall is the waltzing drums and melody of Neighbor, a song that enacts as a thudding kick to the privates at the end of a 37-minute album that feels closer to feature-length.