Field Report have crafted a near-masterpiece of pain and triumph within the deckle-edged leaves of Marigolden.
Seemingly an analogous gentleman, Field Report frontman Chris Porterfield scrambled his surname to arrive at his band’s moniker. Combining "marigold" and "golden" to derive the title of their latest album, Marigolden, it stands to reason Porterfield would adhere to Aristotle's Poetics, bookending the band's sophomore release, Marigolden, with the empowering "Decision Day" and frail "Enchantment", both occurring at sunrise, approximating a 24-hour period. In no way a linear progression of story between the two, Porterfield does detail the day-to-day minutia of life ("Putting on old clothes in a new way”) and, most notably, his struggle with alcoholism. Ambling along at a slow but steady pace, its bleak tales of past burdens carried almost always hint at a brighter future.
The stark coldness that marked the band's 2012 self-titled, folk-laden debut is given a 180-spin -- humidity and its resulting sweat drip from Porterfield's mouth on "Wings", a droning tale of a now-grounded Icarus. Adding electronic elements hinted at on Field Report, the band, with the aid of producer Robbie Lackritz (Feist), greatly expands its range while retaining Porterfield's questioning hopelessness. Adding bounce to Porterfield's rough-hewn recitations of truth and doubt, studio theatrics blanket the emotionally-naked plunk of "Cups and Cups" and the bleating anxiety of the tempting "Summons".
The barest moment of Marigolden is album centerpiece, "Ambrosia". A lone piano ballad that finds Porterfield at his most vulnerable, admitting he "Can’t be trusted, only thrown". Going through the motions, he acknowledges, "I keep spinning my wheels / Nothing's gonna change." While this thread runs through the album, the troika of songs that directly detail this constant battle include the scampering "Pale Rider" in which he apologetically recuses himself from a relationship, stating, "I don’t know that I can be / A place to go or what you need", and the lamenting acoustic closer "Enchantment", where he admits to having "Cashed in my 30-day chip / For a kiss in an air-conditioned bar."
An impressionistic bent bleeds through the album from the outset; from the morning light of "Decoration Day" where "The sun was a radiant underlay / Fighting, fading, winning, waning / Purring behind milken cloudy snow" to the autumnal title track with its former lover who "smelled like saffron". The first single, "Home (Leave the Lights On)", with its Christmas decorations, speaks to the beatific joy of normalcy and its simple pleasures can be found amongst friendly faces and open arms. For all the ritual moltings and seasonal changes left in the wake of Marigolden, Porterfield's burnished lyrics ultimately tint his edict of "Face your fears / Not your shame."
While home may provide safe haven for Porterfield from the demons of the road, it's in the poetry of song where his solace is found. A deeply personal album yet one open to interpretation, by bearing the weight of such gravitas Porterfield and Field Report have crafted a near-masterpiece of pain and triumph within the deckle-edged leaves of Marigolden.