Pelican
Ephemeral EP

As one of the many who hyped Pelican’s self-titled EP from the rooftops, I held out great hope for the band at their inception, but unlike many who continue to hold them in high opinion, my enthusiasm was short-lived due their frankly anemic debut full-length, Australasia. Even more frankly, the live performances I witnessed were about as dull as watching beige paint dry on an especially boring wall.. However, I do not tend to let these things go by easily, so while my ears have often wandered off to the greener pastures of Capricorns and Switchblade for my slow-motion instrumental riff-fest fix, I frequently returned to Pelican to check up on them from time to time, out of friendly concern of course, but also to see if they were going to be able to recapture that original magic.

So here we are a couple more LPs and EPs later, and I can’t say much has improved. It does seem the group has re-emphasized the heavy riffing, but to my ears it is too little too late. As often as they come up with a nice layered groove, which they do to best effect on the opening title track here, they just as quickly remind me of why I had forsaken them earlier, with a meandering go-nowhere piece like “Embedding the Moss” a composition of ok-to-decent riffs and variations on the themes thereof. This is the type of thing that works really well in the jam room and is probably fun to vibe out on, but at some point the band needs to take their work back to the drawing board and actually compose in order to make it inteteresting or compelling to anyone else.

Ephemeral closes with a collaboration with Earth’s Dylan Carlson on one of his songs, “Geometry of Murder” which not being one of their songs, is easily the best of the three. Any harshness in my review partly stems from my own frustration in that this band has obviously been well-received – putting out releases on HydraHead and Southern Lord, getting one of their heroes to jam with them and maintaining an enthusiastic fanbase – but still nothing about where they have gone since their debut really clicks with me. It’s pleasant, catchy, atmospheric sure, but for a band constantly being hailed as a leading light in the niche they inhabit, one expects something a bit more mind-blowing. For me, Pelican has always been too subtle for their own good, coming off less like contemplative wallflowers and more like commonplace wallpaper.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
July 6th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Vance

    I liked “Australasia” and “Fire in our throats…” alot, but “City of Echoes” I found pretty lame, not sure what they were thinking when they decided to go with the short songs, I also feel that the musicianship is just not that good compared to some of the other groups out there doing the same thing. It’s funny how a band like Pelican can influence so much of these newer bands and now they are getting passed by, like the reviewer states above, these guys need to start composing some interesting music if they want to stay relevant.


  2. Commented by: Vance

    I liked “Australasia” and “Fire in our throats…” alot, but “City of Echoes” I found pretty lame, not sure what they were thinking when they decided to go with the short songs, I also feel that the musicianship is just not that good compared to some of the other groups out there doing the same thing. It’s funny how a band like Pelican can influence so much of these newer bands and now they are getting passed by, like the reviewer states above, these guys need to start composing some interesting music if they want to stay relevant.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi


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