Review Summary: When It comes time to fight or flight, Pelican does…a little of both.
Silence is a killer. Usually when a band releases an album to lukewarm praise and proceeds to hide under a rock for the next couple of years, it often spells outright doom. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to see Pelican release an EP virtually out of nowhere, after touring lightly and not making the slightest peep after releasing their comme ci comme ça What We All Come To Need
in 2009. Does the band’s latest effort, Ataraxia/Taraxis
regain some of their composure, or does it continue down the road of mediocrity?
According to the band, Ataraxia/Taraxis
was recorded over multiple sessions in several different recording studios, which initially worried me about the offering’s cohesiveness, something that What We All Come To Need
sorely lacked. Thankfully, the songs don’t suffer from this type of collaboration, and the EP kicks off beautifully from the first song, “Ataraxia”, which sets a nice, dark tone for the rest of the EP. Featuring deep acoustic guitar pickings and a gurgling, sinister background, “Ataraxia” harkens back to the old Pelican days of setting up an atmosphere to envelope the listener in.
But the real show starts with the next track, “Lathe Biosas”, which is easily the standout track of the bunch. Very much in tune with their straight-forward City of Echoes
style, “Lathe Biosas” progresses beautifully and houses a bunch of slick riffs, including the groovy, off-kilter riff near the end. Up next is “Parasite Colony”, which has the signature Pelican crawl to it, chugging along slow and steady with a tremendously powerful feel. Finally, the closer, “Taraxis”, starts off will a chill, groovy 9/4 acoustic guitar line before tastefully fading into a sombre center, complete with background acoustic scrapes, keyboards and sleigh bells. But from there, sadly, What We All Come To Need
tendencies creep in, and the song morphs into some sloppy mess, and limps across the finish line.
Feeling the need to tell fans that, yes, they’re still alive, Ataraxia/Taraxis
seems more like a reassurance than an actual full-on effort. While the songs here, for the most part, call upon the styles that have made them successful in the past, there’s really nothing here to signify that any thought was put in to evolve their sound, to build on some new influences to make an improved effort. While Ataraxia/Taraxis
is a successful release through and through, I have just a sneaking suspicious that this was the band’s swan song. Not really a full-on effort, but not really wanting to lie down and die, it just feels like when Pelican had to decide to fight or flight, they ended up doing a little of both with Ataraxia/Taraxis