Pardoner: Peace Loving People [Album Review]

Peace Loving People
Bar/None Records [2023]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Pardoner, the San Francisco-based indie rock band, has returned with their fourth album, Peace Loving People, and it’s a fantastic display of their evolving sound and songwriting prowess. Building upon the foundation they laid on last year’s excellent Came Down Different, Pardoner delivers a collection of songs here that continues to push boundaries, experiment with new sonic landscapes, and showcase their maturing artistry.

After the short instrumental title track, Pardoner delivers “Are You Free Tonight?” and it becomes evident that the band is taking their sound to a new level and really coming into their own. The track opens with the slacker rock jangle we expect from the group, but midway through, singer Max Freeland sets up the second half with the lyrics, “So long as the music plays, we have no choice but to dance. So take a little pill, I need to take a little pill.” The track then immediately bursts open with an explosive hardcore punk energy, featuring driving guitar riffs, thunderous quick drumming, and a wall of sound that engulfs the listener. This sets the tone for the album, as it’s much more in-your-face approach is once again exemplified by the hard strike of “Deadbeat” which carries this edgier torch before quickly transitioning back into more of a college indie rock groove.

One of the standout tracks, “Rosemary’s Gone,” is a prime example of Pardoner’s ability to craft infectious hooks and melodies. The song grabs you with its injected alternative ’90s guitar lines that swirl around and break up the overall soft tone of the song, while the lyrics explore the slow process of losing the one you love. The continued diversity of the songs is what makes Peace Loving People such a gem, with tracks like “Get Inside!” that feature spoken narratives between the chorus, reminiscent of the catchy “Popular” by Nada Surf. There are also plenty of Dinosaur Jr.-like guitar scorchers on here, including the memorable tracks “Dreaming’s Free” and “My Wagon.” Conversely, songs like “Lily Pad” and “Love Yourself and Others” unleash a raw and aggressive energy, driven by pounding drums and distorted guitars, evoking a sense of controlled chaos.

Peace Loving People showcases Pardoner’s growth as a band and their willingness to take more risks. With its infectious hooks, explosive energy, and catchy lyrics, the album is a thrilling journey that demands repeated listens. Pardoner has solidified their place as a force to be reckoned with in the indie rock scene, and Peace Loving People is a testament to their undeniable talent and ambition.

“Are You Free Tonight?” / “My Wagon” / “Rosemary’s Gone”

Dumb / Polvo / Cheekface

Came Down Different (2021) / Uncontrollable Salvation (2017)

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Thomas Wilde

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