Drawn toward each other by some magnetic force and a mutual love of Yo La Tengo and Polvo, the early conversations that led to forming Pardoner wouldn’t have happened had it’s members not been living in the dorms at San Francisco State University. The primordial soup of spending countless hours around other creatives on an undergraduate campus has given the world no shortage of great bands, but for the time being, it’s only an anecdote from a pre- pandemic world.
Built around the core trio of Max Freeland, Trey Flanigan, and River van den Berghe, Pardoner quickly became a force to be reckoned with, melding slacker rock attitude with pummeling hardcore for a visceral sound not unlike a trip to the dentist’s office and a novocaine high. The band even have their own visual language, with record sleeves and t-shirts adorned in Flanigan’s distinct, psychedelic drawings. Every release since their 2015 inception has seen the group dial up their songcraft, culminating in a pair of exceptional LP’s – 2017’s Uncontrollable Salvation, and last years Playin’ On A Cloud. That same year, Freeland skipped town for Canada (who can blame him), and for a brief moment it looked like the band’s prolific run would be cut short, no longer fueled by proximity and spontaneity.
In classic fashion, their new album Came Down Different, and first for Bar None Records, was recorded in a whirlwind two days with veteran producer and root beer aficionado Jack Shirley. Pulling from demos Freeland had recorded with the help of like minded Vancouver punks Dumb, and new ideas birthed from a month of incessant rehearsal at their old SF lockout, the decision to double down on the band has yielded their best album to date.