After a year-plus of disconnection and connection, Marigold welcomes you to A Better Place. Here, it’s a kaleidoscope of orangeblue; a brilliant reminder of what awaits on the other side of disaster. As a highly expressive multimedia artist, Marigold vocalist / guitarist Benjamin Lieber collects not only himself, but serenity and escapism in moments lit up by a sky’s vibrant color scheme. Marigold, a project that began from the slowdown of Buffalo alt-rock stenographers Head North in 2018, found Lieber stretching out his solo work for the first time while his career as a multimedia artist began to shift his creative routines. As his visual portfolio grew alongside other bands in his orbit, his Marigold project would release two solo albums and an EP. Lieber’s hunger for making and performing music returned after a brief pause, and a full-band Marigold soon crystallized with bassist Matt Herman (he/him) and drummer Joe Enright (he/him), a lineup plucked from time spent playing live music in other acts. Soon after, Kris Khunachak (he/him) would join the fray as second guitarist and close collaborator, lending his talents as a videographer and artist to Marigold’s widescreen ambitions.
Both Lieber’s art endeavors and his work with Marigold reached March 2020 and skid to a halt. Marigold’s ambitions to become a public-facing rock band were put on hold, and the skeleton of a proper full-band debut was pieced together remotely, with the trio sharing parts and demos via email and remaining sequestered in their separate New York City apartments. Existential dread could’ve stunted the project’s measured growth and pacing, but as Lieber reflects: “everything about the experience of starting this band with Joe & Matt has been unconventional and has felt like a new, exciting, and very real thing.”
A Better Place—entering a reopening world via Take This to Heart Records—follows another parallel pathway of change. Lieber summarizes the nine-track effort with a simple tagline: “Falling in love as the world falls apart.” In seemingly perfect timing, Lieber found himself in a budding new relationship while navigating the new normal of the pandemic. Thrown quickly into embrace, faced with a choice to go it together or alone, Lieber and his partner’s dedication to each other allowed escapes from the existential outside world. Lieber coped with the extremity of this experience the best way he knew how, to make art. “A Better Place” copes with unforeseen circumstances via show-stopping visuals, using backdrops from stolen moments the pair shared in Lake Tahoe sunsets, upstate New York backyards, and New England beaches as narrative fuel.
All these snapshots are flattened against the power of nature and the sun—the unmistakable glow of “ORANGEBLUE” sunsets manifesting in everything from a lyrical motif, to a hummable acoustic-rock single, down to the modern and sleek aesthetics of its album packaging.
Perhaps the most staggering upgrade in Marigold’s repertoire is how this sunny disposition is married with love notes to the heartland and classic rock giants of the Seventies, a fact verified in the first line of “Waiting on Me,” which pulls the curtains back on this inspired time capsule. The band tempers this influence through the crystal-clear lens of modern pop-rock, resulting in pleasant starburst “Alpenglow” or the frazzled “Waiting Around,” featuring the New York State Unemployment Line as an uncredited guest star. When the band leans into this nostalgia with a wry smile, treats like the pensive, explosive “Mountainside” curl with natural splendor and folksy trappings before unleashing a full-band introduction, linking together Lieber’s solo beginnings with the project’s collaborative future.
A Better Place is moreso a collection of Polaroids than a concept album, yet the tremors of deeply-felt love and the detachment of the recent moment remain thematic elements. As Lieber explains, “I wanted it to be equal parts specific and universal. I made every effort to tell our story in a way that felt connectable, because every one of us has our own specific experience through this pandemic, and they are all equally valid. All I want for this album is to help people feel like they were not alone in this experience.” Marigold’s escape might not look like yours, but it could be your new way through this—and whatever comes next.
A Better Place is out April 8th via Take This To Heart Records