Written by Starly Lou Riggs
Bay Area’s charmingly comedic Pardoner has just released their newest album Peace Loving People, delivering an exquisitely tongue-in-cheek critique of the trend-hopping alt-youth and evils of competitive culture. Founded by Max Freeland (guitar/vox), Trey Flanigan (guitar/vox) and River Van Den Berghe (drums) in 2015, the band eventually found their “missing piece” with the arrival of bassist Calin Burris in 2019. Despite Freeland now living in Vancouver BC, the artists spent the last two years writing their latest album, out on Bar/None Records. Pardoner is here with a vengeance, holding true to their playful and chaotic sound.
Peace Loving People sounds reminiscent of ‘90s outfits like Dinosaur Jr. and The Figgs–fuzz tones and driving guitar–and lyrically questioning and mocking the kind of people who claim to be anti-establishment while keeping the capitalist machine fed by means of trendy aesthetics.
Feeling like a deadbeat? Just take a pill! “But are you free?” asks Freeland in “Are You Free Tonight,” probing the concept of freedom in a society hellbent on dissociation masquerading as a good time. From narrative tracks like “Get Inside!”–a glimpse at a girl anxiously comparing herself to her aloof friend–to more conventional heartsick songs like “Rosemary’s Gone,” Pardoner has their recipe down: a pinch of ‘90s emo (think Jawbreaker), a bit of hard hitting hardcore, and a bucket of teeth-gritting sarcasm. They take a crack at US military and gun culture in “Cruel Gun,” reference the high art world in “Doberman,” and tease artists who cry for peace while glorifying cocaine, feeding consumerist culture and holding tight to toxic positivity in “Short Song” and “Love Yourself and Others.”
Peace Loving People is a little ode to the hypocritical side of youth culture. It is earnest and playful, digging into cultural truths and relatable daily life alongside a mixed-genre soundtrack that feels both nostalgic and fresh. Freeland’s vocals are raw, Flanigan’s are punk, and Sinclair Riley–featured on “Deadbeat”, “Rosemary’s Gone” and “Cruel Gun”–brings a lilting dreaminess to these fast-paced anthems. Sure, it’s a cruel world out there, but why not have a little fun while it lasts?
Starly Lou Riggs is a queer non-binary writer, musician and visual artist from California, currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Most recently, they worked as a writer and editor for music magazine Eleven PDX and played in grief-gaze band Death Parade in Portland, Oregon. Now, they are creating art and music in Argentina with their partner and listening to any and all sounds they can get their ears on: a big fan of punk, hardcore, experimental, noise, emocore, and a little bit of literally everything.
Pinstriped Zine is passionate about keeping local music scenes alive. Under the Spotlight coverage provides you with highlights of local and both touring bands.
Coverage dating back to August, 2018.