By – Kristi Houk
Recommended if you like: Big Bite, Hotline TNT, Polvo
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way—I am not a Pavement fan.
This matters because Pardoner—the San Francisco based quartet have been compared to the 90’s alt rockers ad nauseam. I get it. Really I do. The slacker vibe is definitely present on Pardoner’s latest release, Peace Loving People, both lyrically (sardonic wit? check!) and musically (sluggish guitars? double check!) But where the paths diverge is the fact that Stephen Malkmus couldn’t write something as self-deprecating, charming, or as heartfelt. And that’s where I get off the Pavement train and on to the Pardoner bus. Less snark—more heart.
Take the opening title track which upon first listen may invoke 45 seconds of some Tweedy-esque atmospherics (please don’t tell my boss I said that) but then we are instantly thrust into the warm, lazy drone of “Are You Free Tonight” topped with a thick layer existential dread:
“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
Just take the edge off for me
I’m a sharp corner
Sticking out and making people bleed.”
Something else winning for me on this album is how carefully and honestly guitarist and vocalist Max Freeland writes from the perspective of a woman. I can count on one hand how many men songwriters actually get this right. You can feel it on track “Get Inside.” The hypnotic groove nicely compliments the story of a girl presumably speaking with her bestie on the phone while sifting through a record collection deciding on what is cool to listen to: “And then she turns on the stereo to give her records a spin, But Isabel says Die Kruezen is out and now Stereolab’s in…” Be still my 15-year-old heart. I’ve been that girl. Choosing just the right album as if my life depended on it because back then, it did.
You may roll your eyes at this, but Peace Loving People is a perfect record regardless of your pronouns. It’s angst-y, sweet, sarcastic and smart.
Slacker with a heart.
Stand out tracks: Are You Free Tonight?, Get Inside, Lily Pad
Written by: kristi houk
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