Published Feb 10, 2016The emotionally charged Cardinal begins with wistful twang and the all-too-common existential dilemma of the young-but-swiftly-aging: the falling away of a past that was once forever. On "Old Friends," singer Evan Hall drawls, "I should call my parents when I think of them / Should tell my friends when I love them."
The Montclair, New Jersey's band's sound — off-the-cuff, loose heart-on-sleeve indie-rock cut with Americana — is the perfect vessel for that kind of premature twilight, anxiety and loss. Above all else, it feels so goddamned natural, with songs like "Then Again" and its wild, guitar noodle beauty hitting some invisible bullseye of rock'n'roll purity. Its perfect followup "Aphasia" is cut from the same cloth. but it's radically different, a big, broken ride leading to the album's most vulnerable moment: "To help remind myself, I wrote this little song," Hall sings. "One day I won't need your love."
For all its melancholy, Cardinal steers toward more hopeful waters on closer "New Friends," with Hall just barely convincing us he's alright. "I resolve to make new friends / I like my old ones but I fucked up so I'll start again / What's the worst that could happen?" It's never too late to make old mistakes anew. (Run For Cover)