20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Pelican’s What We All Come To Need by jluposello
Pelican - What We All Come To Need1

Pelican's What We All Come To Need will drop from Southern Lord on October 27th.

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Pelican’s “Glitter” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Chicago’s Pelican began their career as one of today’s most unclassifiable acts with their debut self-titled in 2001. While their sound is most literally interpreted as post-metal instrumental, one can definitely notice cues from fellow Midwestern post-rock and stoner rock artists in their music, especially in their fourth studio release to-date, What We All Come to Need.

The tracks that come together to make What We All Come to Need inspire a sense of impending apocalyptic doom, with spirally riffs that often fall into one another in a sort of cacophony of distorted guitars. The low, but mostly melodic riffs fill in the songs well and make the music’s inherent lack of vocals almost unnoticeable.It isn’t until you get to the album’s final track, the aptly named “Final Breath”, which is accompanied by vocals from Harkonen’s Ben Verellen, that you start wondering why Pelican didn’t utilize vocals from the start. Verellen’s tasteful singing is mixed extraordinarily well into the track– hardly interpretable and barely recognized on first listen.

Obviously sticking to their southern rock and doom-metal roots, Pelican’s choice in song structure and arrangement is refreshing to any fan of the genre. Some may find, though, that the tracks lack the originality of many of their post-rock peers. Several seem to chug along into sections hardly relatable to one another (see “Glitter” at 4:30). The separate parts of the songs work gorgeously in solo, but when paired together, they give the album a largely disorganized feel that is easily interpreted as blandness in the writing, and a drought of originality.

The record definitely has its moments, however, where you can’t help but revel in the blaring climaxes that Pelican throws at you. On both “Glimmer” and “An Inch Above The Sand”, Pelican is at its best, powering through some very well executed sections. And that’s exactly what sets the band apart in the sea of post-something instrumental acts flooding the scene recently.

While imitators can shoegaze all they want as their fans sway in the audience in front of them, it’s tough to replicate the muscle that Pelican pushes your way during the record’s high points. For listeners, the best advice is positioning yourself in front of some loud speakers, and hanging on tight.

— John Luposello

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