Review Summary: Happy-go-lucky had a little accident
Oh sweet sun of mine, bouncing light around a dusty highway. Pardoner’s Uncontrollable Salvation
cruises down, no shades needed. Sweat drips down brow, lands in eyes, mixes with dust. Foot meets pedal in irritation. Car suddenly swerves onto another lane. Screeching. A crunch is heard. Someone laughs.
is unabashedly capricious, throwing caution into the wind and placing bets on the trajectory. It never takes the beaten path, preferring to veer onto the off-road. Every passage is a sharp turn onto new terrain - sometimes the ground is smooth and sweet, other times it’s tire-ripping discord. It’s a delirious joyride in the desert, heat bending the rays and sand coating the windshield. The riffs are a whirlwind of fuzz and grit, the motor of the rhythm section powering through with steady conviction.
And the thing is, I’d entrust my fate with the seemingly crazy driver of this vehicle. Never mind the youthful abandon that Uncontrollable Salvation
’s stream-of-consciousness musings prescribe - it turns out that the precarious zig-zagging forms a very intelligible pattern indeed. With neatly sequenced chords, “Blue Hell” starts the record off on a sunny path but then suddenly dissolves in tempestuous clashing. “Outdoor Excursion” rides its way to success as it glides on the upturn of its atonal motif. Rather than a crash landing, it finds itself back on its feet with a cheerful gait. It’s all calculated disaccord, red sicced against green and breaking the traffic lights. These studies in contrast, present throughout Uncontrollable Salvation
, are the mainstay of its composition; they’re consistent jolts, bumps on the road that keep you awake. You know perfectly well that they exist, and yet your heart might just skip a beat when you hit one.
It’s easy to call Uncontrollable Salvation
chaotic, but that shifts the emphasis away from its ability to drive in a jaunty, tuneful melody. “I mean come on, it’s so much fun being happy!” proclaims the title track, and while this line may have been deadpanned, it can very well be applied to the effect of the record. It’s mildly ironic that it was chanted during the disharmonious bridge, but the chorus is incessantly peppy and all the more infectious for it. In fact Pardoner are masters of stuffing songs with pithy hooks, little segments worming through with each repetition. Distortion often masks the “wholesomeness” of the chords, which are more judicious with their dissonance than one might perceive at first glance. I consider it the second layer of surprise that Pardoner might actually be more order than chaos, but then this point would seem to count in favour of the latter.
“I slept for weeks / Oh God I’m bored,” goes “Labrador” in a mildly distraught manner. I wonder where its energy went? Oh, that’s right - I’ve been feeding off of Uncontrollable Salvation
. It runs on sardonicism, and so do I - all the better that it’s delivered through a system which doesn’t induce crushing angst. I was very lucky to have crashed into Uncontrollable Salvation