New Pinegrove album ‘Skylight’ carries baggage


“Skylight” is Pinegrove’s second album, released after a year-long delay.

By Tyler Neal

Pinegrove’s new album “Skylight” is a worthy successor to their 2016 debut “Cardinal,” a record that poised them to conquer the indie rock world. “Skylight” strips back many of more anthemic excesses Pinegrove used to win the hearts of alternative music fans everywhere for a deeply personal, intimate record that sounds more like something from the glory days of Wilco than any of their contemporaries in the indie rock world.

The closeness these songs provide between the band and listeners are a great vehicle for the songwriting, which is top notch as always. The music is an excellent counterpoint to the minimalist feel of the lyrics, surrounding the listener in a warm blanket of guitars, while never taking away from the lyrical content. This record, maybe even more so than their debut, captures a particular kind of existential satisfaction Pinegrove’s music covers better than anyone else. In a perfect world, “Skylight” would be in the top 20 records of the year.

Unfortunately, the album is also hard to listen to. In October 2017 Evan Hall, Pinegrove’s frontman, put the band on indefinite hiatus and canceled tour dates after he was accused of “sexual coercion,” according to a Nov. 21 Facebook post. The actual details of what happened have been murky, but clearly he took them seriously enough to act.

Even though the album was finished before accusations were made public, it’s almost impossible to listen to the record without being reminded. There are many lyrics throughout the record alluding to being better and overcoming terrible things that have happened in the past.

Officially, the band is still on hiatus. There are no concert dates; the band has released the album for free on Bandcamp and all proceeds go to charities to prevent violence and poverty. The band is completely in favor of the dismantling of patriarchal structures, and do not want any fans who do not share that goal, according to an Sept. 26 interview with Pitchfork.

Pinegrove’s goals and actions post-allegations have all been honorable. The question remains, however, if they are genuine in their goals, or if this is just an act to maintain their image while posing a quick comeback. There is certainly something to be said for coming back the right way, but American culture hasn’t decided what the right way to come back from accusations like these are yet. There may not be any way at all.

Time will tell what Pinegrove’s true intentions here are. It seems like they want to do the right thing. Here’s hoping that continues to be true, and this isn’t all cynical marketing to get out of a bad news story.