Marigold comes after a rather tumultuous period for the band Pinegrove; in November 2017, lead singer Evan Stephens Hall was accused of sexual coercion by a former tour member and released a statement accepting the accusation and apologizing. The band then shelved their then unreleased album Skylight and took a hiatus.
There are no rules about what a band should do after allegations like that come out, or how fans should react. Hall shared that he was working on his relationship with the accuser and on himself. Per the request of the accuser, Skylight was released. Two sold out tours in 2018 and 2019 followed, proving the band had not lost momentum despite the uneasiness. And then came Marigold in 2020.
To summarize Marigold, it might be best to start at the end rather than the beginning. The title track is a mellow instrumental that comes at the very end and clocks in at around six minutes. Singer Evan Stephens Hall said that they made the final song because they wanted to “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.” The entire album is an emotional journey that really does require some thoughtful time after listening.
It’s hard to not search for answers in the album related to the 2017 allegations. Evan Stephens Hall and the band have made it clear to press that Marigold is not to be taken as a statement on that. While stoic, Marigold is all about practicing empathy and restraint.
Songs like “Moment,” “No Drugs” and “Endless” focus on practicing patience, especially in times of chaos. The song “No Drugs” plainly details the struggles of how substance abuse can affect relationships. Hall stated it is a song that sends the message to “be better to me, to be better to you… it is more important to remember to be present, and to be patient.” Along the same lines, the song “Moment” features lyrics that are about being grateful for every part of life, even when it’s hard to see the good. “Endless” recounts the feeling of days sometimes being mundane and meaningless, but implores you to remember that “It’s an honor to feel this way/To feel the color of the longest day.”
Pinegrove appears to be on a search for the whole way of living life, providing insight through several anecdotes. On “Neighbor,” Hall references a neighbor at the band’s home studio who would hunt animals. At the end of the song, he sings “Well, I love my neighbor/But don’t understand his behavior/I love that bird but I don’t ever want to take her.” Knowing the background on this song, it can be interpreted as a request to enjoy things in the moment rather than be focused on finding a way to capture it forever.
“The Alarmist” comes off as perhaps the most defining track of Marigold. Throughout the song, lyrics plead to someone: “Now do what you feel like you gotta do but/ Be good to me.” The song then ends with a repetitive “Can I believe in the me before I knew you beautifully?” While a little self-deprecating, the ending leaves the impression that in order to love and be compassionate to others, you need to feel that way about yourself first.
Though it may be the shortest, the message of “Spiral” is one of the clearest of the album. Hall shared the song’s short phrases like “Drink water/good posture/good lighting/good evening” are meant to be like pages ripping off of a calendar. Each day comes and goes with its own struggles, but focusing on the simpler things can remind you to stay present.
It is part of human nature to take part in the never-ending search for our purpose on this planet. We look to stars, signs, and gods for what we are doing here, often to no avail. Pinegrove has come back with a possible answer for us: we may not ever find that purpose, but we can decide to live with purpose instead. Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall told fans in an Instagram post that Marigold is “for anyone who is chronically dehydrated; for anyone with a slouching problem; for anyone who has the honor of being in love right now. It is dedicated to anyone who is striving to live a more intentional life & to anyone whose favorite primary color, against all odds, is yellow.”