PELICAN What We All Come To Need CD/LP

Unfussy and arty hard rock jams are Pelican's stock and trade and What We All Come To Need is not wanton. The album's eight tracks develop slowly, build reliably, pause briefly, and conclude with mute conviction. "Glimmer," the opener, presents the Pelican ideal well enough. An atmospheric intro welcomes a lumpy guitar riff, soon to be crisscrossed by freely ringing arpeggios and unhurried improvised lines over an assertive, deceptively simple rhythm. The riff is repeated, restated, dissolved, and then marshaled again over seven minutes. Next. Devoid of showy time changes and rude noodling, Pelican recordings aren't really made to be put under the microscope but, rather, take up ever more space. Little flashes appear to remind us that this is not just instrumental music by default. The neo-Persian drones that leap from "An Inch Above Sand," for instance, or the Loveless whining and Computer World mechanics that line the title track. The closing number, "Final Breath" (duh), features (ta-da!) vocals but the affect is mere color. What We All Come To Need is open to a bit of randomness, if not interesting accidents on the order of reedmen huffing or a plectrum breaking a string. Producer Chris Common, of Seattle superpunks These Arms Are Snakes, may have ushered in the newish clarity that we hear throughout What We All Come To Need, while the list of guest players from the likes of Isis and Sun 0))) represent a sort of ghost of work parties past. Now four big albums in, we'd expect Pelican to be comfortable in its skin. If Need is not a breakthrough it is, at a minimum, their best work. Despite the hyperbole affixed their jacket, words like "crushing" and "punishing" do not really apply. This big bird sounds more Grover than Snuffleupagus. [Southern Lord]

-Patrick Whalen

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