Pardoner is a San Francisco-based noise rock outfit that deserves more attention. If you’re looking to sink your teeth into a loud and fun record, perhaps their 2019 release Playin’ on a Cloud is what you’re looking for. What sets the band apart from their contemporaries is their unique combination of hardcore and indie pop. Two separate worlds that they deftly combine in their own concoction. The band makes use of the heavy textures of hardcore and noise rock with a versatility and expertise that’s up there with the best of them. Yet underneath the distortion and the angular guitar riffs are pleasant pop melodies with great hooks and song structures that can get you to bob your head in sections that don’t require you to bang them.
“Sugary + Sweet” opens the album with blistering rhythms and weaving guitars. This is the most ‘hardcore’ song among its peers, composed of a whirlwind of textural noise and interlaced with spiky riffs that takes the listener to a chaotic mosh pit atmosphere.
The next few tracks follow in a wide variety. In “Can’t Be Shown”, the vocals are more subdued, with soft-loud dynamics ala Deftones that’s carefully maintained throughout. The use of bluesy riffs, harmonic minor arpeggios and a constant bombardment of distortion and feedback at display here proves the versatility of Pardoner in their guitar chops.
“All Your Happy Feelings” is more ling the lines of jangly indie pop with pounding noise and distortion, a characteristic that makes it more proto-emo than their usual hardcore fare. “Ram on the Rocks” is almost entirely a play on dissonance, where the riffs growl and hiss over grinding rhythms and a strained slacker vocal. It’s as if following a languid figure who’s struggling through the chaos all around them. A constant energy slowly simmers and brims, until everything explodes in its climactic end.
Other highlights in this album include “One for Weston”, which has a breezy surf riff with pleasant vocal harmonies, albeit laced with the Pardoner special of pounding riffs and abrasive textures. The title track closes the album in a six minute epic, a song that plays around its structure with a conversational vocal followed by a guitar storm that soars and dips in between calm and madness.
If you’re looking into the heavier side of indie, rock. Give Pardoner a listen. You just might find yourself Playin’ on a Cloud.