Run For Cover Records
Release Date: February 12, 2016
Pinegrove is an indie rock quartet from Montclair, NJ made up of vocalist Evan Hall, guitarist Nick Levine, bassist Sam Skinner, and drummer Zack Levine. Their new album, Cardinal, is full of catchy indie tunes with a touch of folk rock. Don't be fooled by that description, though; Pinegrove are doing anything but following a mainstream trend.
Pinegrove have garnered comparisons to acts like Ryan Adams and Built to Spill, but their sound is rather similar to Saves the Day's In Reverie, albeit without the glossy sheen and a bit more dejected in tone. On Cardinal, low-fi production meets fuzzy guitars, sometimes in a thick crunching then strumming style and sometimes with more of a jangly feel. The obvious neglect of auto tune or any such tools is brought to the forefront and displayed with pride. The approach complements Pinegrove's style, particularly when Evan Hall's unique voice wanders innocently and harmlessly off key. There are vocal chops here, as displayed on "Aphasia", one of the most introspective songs on the album, and "Cadmium", where Hall's nasally voice wanders into falsetto territory with aplomb.
Pinegrove's penchant for well thought out arrangements shines through as the album progresses. The title track, "Cardinal", is also the standout track. It exhibits strong songwriting, replete with hooks and catchy melodies while still controlling the mood of the music. The song features meaningful prose about how a self-gratifying lifestyle that neglects others makes you unhappy. It is a refreshingly honest view that is scarce in the glamor ridden world of rock n roll. While there is plenty more great songwriting on display throughout the album, this song is good enough that the other one's can't quite hold a candle to it. Which is just fine, considering most can't anyway.
Reviewed by James 1340