Editors’ Notes A few years ago, the members of Pinegrove went looking for a quiet little place where they could make a lot of noise. The Montclair, New Jersey, rock group had broken through with 2016’s sneakily powerful Cardinal, an album full of neo-emo anthems that would earn the band a wildly devotional fanbase, inspiring plenty of late-night sing-alongs and first-time tattoos along the way. Not long after the success of Cardinal, Pinegrove began scouting properties in upstate New York, looking for a new studio. “The idea,” lead singer Evan Stephens Hall tells Apple Music, “was that, if we didn’t have any neighbors to bother, we could just record at all hours, whenever inspiration spontaneously struck—whenever the cardinal landed in our tree, so to speak.” Eventually, they discovered a remote 18th-century Dutch farmhouse deep in the wild; the closest bystanders were the 600 dairy cows on a nearby farm. Dubbed “Amperland,” the building became Pinegrove’s primary creative space for both 2018’s Skylight and the new Marigold—an album that was recorded after a tumultuous period for the band, one that had included a self-imposed hiatus. Ultimately, it feels like the group’s most hyper-focused yet, expansive enough to include both the group’s briefest song (the affirmation-like “Spiral,” which clocks in at under a minute) and one of its longest (the gently surging instrumental title track). And while Pinegrove obsessives might be tempted to draw dotted lines between Hall’s lyrics and his personal life, “I want to resist an autobiographical interpretation,” he says. “I want people to see themselves in this record. It's my hope it inspires feelings of empathy and introspection—and ultimately, of community.” Here, he walks us through Marigold, track by track.
Dotted Line “It’s supposed to be an optimistic anthem of the self. If you drive from a certain place in Manhattan to New Jersey, you encounter something like ten signs welcoming you to New Jersey. There was one particular time when I was crossing the border into my home state when I was just suddenly awake to the repetition of these signs. And for me, that consequently bloomed a story that involved travel, that involved transit, that involved looking across the river—there's a ‘to’ and a ‘from.’ And I might point listeners to the fact that the first line of ‘Rings,’ the first song on Skylight, is ‘I draw a line in my life.’ And in this song, there’s a line about ‘a dotted line from my antenna.’ So maybe it's somebody listening to the song ‘Rings,’ and their experience is mimicking crossing that line that’s been drawn across the border to New Jersey. And on the outro, [guitarist Josh Marre] plays a reference to ‘Rings.’ So that’s some of the stuff going on there.”
Spiral “This one, for me, is imagining the days on a day-by-day calendar just flying off into the wind. On every single line, I'm imagining as a new day: ‘Good morning/Good morning/Good morning’—that's three days. I wanted to address time and our experience within it, and I thought having a song that's notably either short or notably long is one way to at least draw attention to that theme. So I wanted to make it as short as possible.”
The Alarmist “This song takes place the first moment when you are left by yourself—like after a friend goes home or something. It's a potent moment, when you are assessing or addressing, or recalibrating. Where your world expands to include this new thing—whatever just happened. You’re like, ‘Okay, this is, this is my life now.’ There's something bittersweet about what's going on. There's an element of wanting independence, and an element of dependence. It's a negotiation of how two people are.”
No Drugs “I don't think there's anything particularly mystifying about what's going on in this song. ‘No Drugs’ was originally recorded for the Skylight sessions. And part of the reason I didn't feel like it was ready for Skylight is that I wasn't ready. These songs are intended, first and foremost, as a challenge to myself to live more intentionally, more patiently—to be better to me, to be better to you. They’re prayers, in a way—secular prayers, we could call them. And at a certain point in my effort towards leading a more intentional and honest life, I understood that sobriety is a form of honesty. And I understood that the anxiety I feel—and that I had been trying to self-medicate—is part of who I am, part of my terrestrial experience. And so it's more important to me to remember to be present, and to be patient. And that’s what I really see as a theme throughout this album: patience.”
Moment “We chose this as the first single for a pretty mundane reason: We thought the song rocked, and that it showed what this album does. It moves through a few different moods, and given that all of the songs are connected in a way, we were looking for something that didn't depend necessarily on the other songs. But this is another song about patience. And I'll point your attention to the question at the end of the song, which is, 'It keeps me asking/What's in this moment?’ after this person is sitting in a traffic jam. We can react to challenges impatiently. And I think for myself, and perhaps for other people, that is the self-preservational instinct: ‘Hey, I only have so much time here, so let's get to it.' But your brain is the only thing throughout your whole life that you are living with, and so you may as well make it a nice place to live. This song also takes up the theme of driving from ‘Dotted Line.’ I am somebody who has to drive a lot— not for better, and certainly for worse—and that made its way into the album a few times.”
Hairpin “In the room where we recorded this, there’s an enormous window that looks out into the forest. This was during the springtime, and while I was recording those tessellated guitar lines in the second verse, suddenly there were these huge balls of hail—we're talking physical basketballs—just flying through the sky and pounding the roof. It was intense and very cool, and I was imagining the guitar notes as chunks of ice as I was picking them. It was all over by the end of the song, and it amped me up. I was like, ‘All right, this has to be the take.’”
Phase “The theme of the endless night is introduced in ‘Dotted Line’: ‘Endless night, and I lift my head up.’ So we are narrowing in the aperture in ‘Phase,’ and looking at what that night felt like. It’s about nighttime anxiety—looking around the room, seeing piles of clothes, seeing s**t that you should be doing, making lists in your head. It’s about those little anxious versions of yourself, marching around on your pillow.”
Endless “I see ‘Phase’ and ‘Endless’ as possibly related more closely than the other songs; they're just different takes on the same feeling. ‘Endless’ is about patience. Or, more specifically, impatience: just feeling the way time elapses. And there’s a line in the second verse that says, ‘It's an honor to feel this way.’ Because that feeling connects me to other humans who are going through something difficult, it’s expanding my capacity for empathy. And though this is all sung in the first person, anybody can sing it. These are songs that are meant for anybody to sing. That's why we've put guitar tabs for our songs online—so people can learn it, and play it with their friends.”
Alcove “In this one, there’s more to establish the darker, more personal mood that some of the other songs are trying to play off of. This is a song that is about being horizontal, and understanding that a depressed person in bed is memetically related to a dead person—who’s also horizontal. I wrote this when I was out visiting California. I have four generations of family living there, the oldest being my grandmother, the youngest being my niece and nephew. It was warm, but I was thinking a lot about home, and what my friends were doing—which is to say, my bandmates. There's just something about the winter, when everything outside is in hibernation—and the spirit is hibernating, too.”
Neighbor “When you’re living in such close proximity to the natural world, you are encountering a lot of wildlife, and a lot of wild death. We've had plenty of squirrels, mice, and insects come into the Amperland house to die. And that was initially disturbing. Ultimately, I had to make a type of cosmic peace with it, but it was very emotional for me. And, you know, I'll wake up to the sounds of my neighbors hunting—which is always disturbing. ‘Neighbor’ includes the scene where I'm just lying in bed, listening to geese, and thinking about how lovely it is, and then I hear a shot—and, clearly, it's the geese being shot, because of their audible reaction. It wasn't something I saw; it was just something I heard. But there was just such a compressed narrative in that one second, and that was inspiring to me.”
Marigold “I wanted to drop the listener into an energetic space that was overtly comforting, and that acknowledged that they had just gone through an emotional experience. But I also hoped to move them or resolve them in a place of optimism and community. And I imagined that each peal of guitar is the petal of a flower. ‘Marigold’ is intentionally long—it used to be twice as long, but we had to make some selections to make it make sense within the context of the album. That has to do partly with our understanding that the song is going to finish an album that's within the broader context of an algorithm, one that's probably going to play some other song that we have no control or curation of, directly after our album. So we wanted to maybe make a little bit of a punctuation of our own—so we could give space for the listener to reflect, if they chose to take it.”
11 Songs, 37 Minutes
January 17, 2020
℗ 2019 Rough Trade Records Ltd.
See Friends Who Have Listened to This
Set up your profile to see when friends have played an album or playlist.