Review snippets taken from Collin Brennan’s review over at Consequence of Sound
Cardinal is a contemplative record that converses with memory, but it doesn’t always do so in hushed tones. Pinegrove has internalized the soft-loud dynamic of rock music so fully that they can travel impressive distances in the span of a single song. The intro to “Waveform” sounds like it was recorded on a bedroom 4-track, and there’s a real intimacy conjured between the speaker and the person he’s addressing. But then the song unexpectedly blows up outward in the chorus, becoming more of a ballad that’s meant to be shouted between large groups of sweaty friends.
Of course, Pinegrove is probably most effective when they start in the sweaty gathering and then blast even further upward. “New Friends”, the album’s closer and a companion piece to “Old Friends”, exemplifies this trajectory, and the results are enthralling. “I resolve to make new friends,” sings Hall in a resigned tone. “I liked my old ones, but I fucked up, so I’ll start again.” The song’s anthemic, minute-long outro signifies that the start arrives just where we’d least expect it: at the end of the line, when all hope is lost and the only solution left is to burn everything down. Pinegrove builds and burns a lot on Cardinal, and they’re left with the hard-earned knowledge that everything’s probably going to be alright. It’s not the stuff teenage anthems are made of, maybe, but maturity comes with its own small pleasures.