Cardinal Album Review
Run For Cover Records
Released February 12, 2016
Genre: Alternative Country, Indie Rock
Combining the earthy warmth of Wilco, with the open-hearted vulnerability of emo contemporaries such as Joyce Manor and Touché Amoré, New Jersey’s Pinegrove expand on their lo-fi debut with a grander, more emotional follow-up that makes for some of the most endearing, honest, and sentimental music you’ll hear this year. Lead vocalist Evan Stephens Hall’s singular drawl sounds like a kind and sincere welcome from a non-specific-geographical location, that provides an unforgettable, and at times self-deprecating, element to Cardinal;
its music and lyrics proving to elevate his voice tenfold.
Book-ending the album, the tracks “Old Friends” and “New Friends” (this one, opening their debut record), feel like two sides of the same coin; both heavily focus on relationships. “Old Friends” laments over death and the missed opportunity of deepening a friendship, while “New Friends” contemplates the regret of focusing too much on one person while ignoring a plethora of other friends of equal to lesser value. “Cadmium” is a patient tune introduced with a simple plcuked guitar, before Hall’s voice crackles out lyrics over the pressure and intensity built up on words that are left unsaid inside a person. Album highlight “Aphasia” takes its name from a speech disorder and sounds like a woozy, hungover victory cry for actually communicating, truthfully, with someone. It’s a blithe feeling Pinegrove manage to conjure, simply on speaking entirely from the inside.
On their Bandcamp, they describe themselves as “music for the promotion of introspective partying!” – a rather facetious motto to base a band off of. But introspection has its moments despite its troubling and inward looking process; and if anyone who has experienced a sudden moment of emotional clarity during a party, one can attest to its intensity on the psyche. On Cardinal, Pinegrove discuss friendships, relationships, and communication. How do we interact with everyone around us, and how we communicate define our relationships with other people. The real question they posit is, how do we make these day-by-day encounters mean something. The answer comes to us neither at the bottom of a bottle nor in one’s room all alone, it comes when we stop thinking inward, and start speaking and interacting outwards. Unity is the best virtue.
But don’t let all this emotional and introspective rhetoric get you down or deter you, Cardinal is one of the best records of 2016 from one of indie rock’s rising stars.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Old Friends, Cadmium, Then Again, Aphasia, Visiting, New Friends
LEAST FAV TRACK: Waveform