Marigolden’s second track, the surprisingly catchy radio single “Home,” finds Porterfield on the road, hoping the home, wife, dog, and life he left behind in Milwaukee will still be there upon his return. “Leave the lights on,” he asks, “it might be nighttime when I get there, but I’m on my way home.” While the song contemplates lonesomeness, there is an undeniable sense of hope driving it. In “Summons,” the penultimate track, he recalls this thought, repeating, “I’ll be coming home to you” like a mantra. This sense of balance and symmetry across the album helps provide stability to the otherwise volatile themes. Case in point: the album starts with a sunrise in “Decision Day” and ends full circle with another in “Enchantment.”
Whether reconsidering sobriety in “Pale Rider,” sticking to tonic water in the bars of “Summons,” or cashing in a 30-day chip for a kiss in “Enchantment,” Porterfield’s relationship with alcohol runs through the current of nearly every song. Most notably in “Ambrosia,” where he find himself face to face with the reality of where his drinking is destined to lead.
The album runs the musical gamut, from the Traveling Wilburys-esque pop of “Home,” to the Neil Young-inspired piano ballad “Ambrosia,” to the electronic sonic landscape of “Wings.” While the compositions express a wide range in terms of genre, they find unity in themselves within the limits of self-imposed minimalism. In the studio, the songs were stripped down to the bones and built back up using only their essential elements.
Sequestered in a seemingly never-ending Ontario blizzard, the band only broke from this musical process to add logs to the stove, with the snow and the fire providing a proper background for music so rooted in the elemental. The effect that this fundamentals-based approach achieves is universal: the sparse arrangements and common themes speak to everyone, but somehow feel tailored to each listener. The title itself reflects this, a portmanteau of two common images (marigold and golden) to create something that feels both idiosyncratic and familiar: Marigolden.