It is not hard to look around to find indie rock but it’s always exciting to find an album that takes it to the next level. That is the one line I would use to describe San Francisco’s Pardoner and their third LP, Came Down Different. The band takes a slacker rock formula that has been used plenty of times in the past and electrifies the experience with witty lyrics, melodic lulls and break out punk rock moments. This is an album that has more energy than can be contained within its 31 minutes.
After 2019’s sophomore album, Playin’ On A Cloud, it seemed like Pardoner was done as founding member Max Freeland left to Canada. Well, as uncertainty took over the world Pardoner came back together and Came Down Different was recorded in two days with veteran producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Jeff Rosenstock). Combine the excellent production with the eagerness to record again and Pardoner have created their best album to date and one of the most exciting indie rock records I have heard yet this year.
The catchy part of Pardoner is that they never over power you with their guitar outbursts but the band springs them on you at the right moment. “I Wanna Get High To The Music” moves along at a nice Pavement type pace until the band hits you with a full band attack that is fuzzy and spastic. The track is also only 1:13 so it’s a lot packed into a small package. “Spike” is on the more rambunctious side with its seesaw guitar intro and Parquet Courts type of vocal delivery. “Hammer Factory” keeps the slower vocals hidden below the instruments as the song rocks out with a scorching confidence. You could find perfect tidbits on every track on Came Down Different that will stand out to your ear.
Pardoner offers a fresh take on existing indie rock framework that brings an edge to each of their new tracks. Came Down Different never wears out and with repetitive listens you either catch a new memorable lyric or riff that sticks with you longer and becomes a favorite moment later on. Pardoner highlights that indie rock is not dead and their album easily should inspire more kids to pick up a guitar, start a band and just let it rip!
Key Tracks: “Broadway” / “Bunny’s Taxi” / “Donna Said”
Artists With Similar Fire: Parquet Courts / Kiwi Jr. / Cheekface
-Reviewed by Thomas Wilde