Appearing less than a year after 2019's self-released Skylight, New Jersey indie outfit Pinegrove return with Marigold, their fourth LP and first for seminal British indie Rough Trade. Coming off a tumultuous period that saw the quartet's momentum stalled by a sudden self-imposed hiatus and subsequent loss of their label, their ship seems to have righted itself as they turn in another strong release, this time with the backing of a well-established label. Pinegrove's musical formula, lovingly nurtured over the years by frontman Evan Stephens Hall and longtime collaborator, drummer Zack Levine, remains undiminished. A familiar sense of open-hearted melancholia underpins their poetic blend of indie rock, folk, and rugged Americana, with each collection of weary introspections playing like a chapter in the ongoing narrative of Hall's life. Perhaps his most empathetic volume yet, Marigold's beauty is in the simplicity of its melodies and elegance of its lyrics. Amid rustic exaltations of chiming guitars and sweet-toned harmonies, Hall sings of fraught collisions -- literal and figurative -- between the human and animal kingdoms, where wounded possums reveal their dignity on "Neighbor" and the fate of a creature barely glimpsed in the headlights remains uncertain on the wonderfully dynamic "Moment." Another highlight, "Dotted Line," folds its winsome melody around the meandering driver's refrain of "may no memory hold my head up." The album's robust organic production, courtesy of Hall and Sam Skinner, swells and contracts appropriately with the ebb and flow of Pinegrove's easy chemistry, never getting in the way, but somehow coming across as more polished than earlier releases. Marigold offers no major surprises or alterations in the band's sound, just quality songwriting and a rather remarkable consistency.
by Timothy Monger