Pardoner announce their highly anticipated new album Peace Loving People, out June 23rd via Bar/None Records. Lead single “Are You Free Tonight?” provides a clear mission statement from the band, careening wildly from warmly nostalgic alt-rock to frantic punk, moving away from prior efforts to mix disparate genres together and instead juxtaposing them sharply against each other. Max Freeland explains the song is “One of many on the album about our generation, the things we do to get by, and how we’re all goin nowhere fast. Kinda shows the 2 poles of our sound, from something warm and saccharine to something more sinister and violent.”
Pardoner’s music runs the gamut with big 90’s hooks likened to Teenage Fan Club or Smudge, wiry Devo-tinged riffs, and at points, even edging into off-the-rails US hardcore territory à la Jerry’s Kids and Void. This might sound like some slacker’s deranged rock-fusion vision, but they pull it off with a seamless, concrete sound with hooks that worm their way into your brain like a Cronenberg parasite. The group creates the kind of music that fires you up enough to throw a lava lamp across the living room, or simply relax to with some close friends. Whatever the case, Pardoner leaves an impression with their well-crafted songs, mind-melting guitarmonies, and experimental elasticity.
Current band members Max (guitar/vox), Trey (guitar/vox), River (drums) and Colin (bass) are running a multinational enterprise with Max living in Vancouver BC, a 15-hour drive away. This has not stopped the band from writing and recording their magnum opus, Peace Loving People, to be released with the bands label Bar/None Records this summer. Trey and Max, having written Pardoner’s prior LP while a great distance apart from one another as well (The Bar/None released 2021 ripper Came Down Different), reckoned the distance was manageable and again wrote their contributions from afar. Trading demos back and forth for the better part of two years, the band had a more relaxed approach to the writing process this time around, and after extensively demoing the material as a full band, set out to record it with longtime friend of the band and trusted engineer, Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden Studio in Oakland, CA.
Brief, surreal interludes like the title track are densely layered rips from those demo tapes, culled from years of tinkering, and serve as evidence of the wide creative net cast by the band in the songwriting process. Having seen more of what the godforsaken continent of North America has to offer, the lyrical component of this album similarly switches focus from broader critiques of hot-button concepts such as capitalism to more specific, incisive observations about young alternative society today, such as trend-hoppers, art, and the miserable artists who make it. While the previous album solidified this group’s capacity for hitmaking, the fourteen forthcoming tracks expand, compound, and exponentially broaden Pardoner’s knack for heady indie and punk. “Are You Free Tonight?” provides a clear mission statement from the band, careening wildly from warmly nostalgic alt-rock to frantic punk, moving away from prior efforts to mix disparate genres together. This time, the different styles are distilled to a purer form of each, and laid side-by-side to jarring effect. “My Wagon” presents the band at their most approachable, locking into a laid-back, buoyant groove on the verses, only to be interrupted by uneasy blasts of distortion on the choruses. “Rosemary’s Gone” pivots to unexpected lush, lovelorn vocal harmonies and then snaps into guitar-centric chaos propelled by van den Berghe’s muscular, precise drumming.
Across the album, listeners can expect higher production value without losing grit, farther reaching arrangements, more dialed in rhythms, and even bigger head-bashing hooks- this is to say, Peace Loving People is the band’s best work to date. In a world with so many dark spots, Pardoner is a shining star. As a great man once said, “Music is the food of love”.
Photo Courtesy: Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes