Review Summary: Feeling a little uninspired and somewhat lost, Pelican release their fourth album that features plenty of hits and misses.
Pelican has certainly come a long way with their sound. Originally starting as a sludgy, post-metal outfit with ambient structures and lush, melodic soundscapes, Pelican has since evolved into a more riff-based, rock-oriented group. While most found Pelican’s abandonment of their ambient structures in favour of a more structured sound to be diappointing, I really enjoyed the new found energy and inspired structure that was found on their previous effort, City Of Echoes
. So with their fourth full-length, What We All Come To Need
, would Pelican go back to their signature style, or evolve their new sound further?
While listening What We All Come To Need
, it seems clear that Pelican weren’t really sure of what sound they wanted to create. While most songs are very focused and have a distinct characterization of the music found on City of Echoes
, the majority of progressions and riffs found on the album sound very uninspired and lack a certain confidence. After spending an entire career creating flowing, uninhibited progressions with creative structures and riffs, Pelican seems to be very lost and confused for the very first time, and it absolutely shows.
Specifically, “Glimmer” and “Specks of Light” are great examples to showcase Pelican’s withdrawn efforts on this album. Both songs chug along with structured, sludgy guitars and catchy chorus riffs, but then at 4:30 and 3:32, respectively, both songs slam on the breaks before slowly crawling into a crashing climax. While the individual parts of the songs work, they really don’t mesh together well when listened to as a whole. It seems that Pelican’s signature grace is absent here, as the progressions seem clunky and forced. When listening to these songs, I just can’t help but get the impression that they were just thrown together without any second thought at all.
And while there are some redeeming qualities about the previous two songs, this album does feature a fistful of just outright terrible efforts. “Creeper” is an abomination, as it just weaves in and out unceremoniously with flimsy guitar riffs for seven minutes while lacking progression, groove and a meaningful climax. The album’s closer, “Final Breath”, is a bland, lifeless offering, and the uncharacteristic vocals add absolutely nothing meaningful or exciting to the sound.
Thankfully, there are some more inspired and focused tracks to be found on What We All Come To Need
. “Strung Up From The Sky”, “An Inch Above Sand” and “Ephemeral” are all very City Of Echoes-eqsue: the guitar riffs have energy, the progressions have drive, and the songs all clock in at shorter times to really capture a very punctual and sharpened feel. The album’s title track is also very free-wheeling and enjoyable, although it does evolve into some strange mess during the final couple of minutes of the song.
In the end, Pelican can be applauded for evolving their sound, but what is found on What We All Come To Need
can arguably be heralded as their worst effort to date. While some songs hit the nail on the head, most of the songs on the album struggle to find an identity, and sadly, some songs just fall flat on their face. It’s unfortunate that such a unique band like Pelican could create something so bland and uncreative, and hopefully their sound evolves backs into a more cohesive, creative style in the future.