Pelican’ s The Fire in our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw
is heavy. For seven songs, the album, nay, the EP, nay-Pelican’s sonic stream of consciousness!, clocks in at a hefty 58 minutes and change.
Pelican plays sans vocals, so that much more attention is paid to melodic compositions and arrangements that otherwise could be mistaken for filler, but don’t be fooled, they’re not a jam band-their generously timed movements are just big boned. The challenge in rock ‘n roll to put out a good piece of all-instrumental work, is that the music has to do all the talking. Just like any well-thought out album, there must be a theme, a cohesive idea, and some glue to hold it all together.
At best, it’s risky to produce a one-hour rock album with no words. At worst, it’s self-indulgent. The good stuff of Fire in our Throats gets lost in the first three songs, so you really do get teased with dynamic guitars and a sense of emotion. The first 30 minutes are angry, and sad, and angry in a sort of ‘I’d rather be medicated’ angry. Fire in our Throat is sometimes grungy, sometimes foreboding, but always never really happy. “March to the Sea” sounds like it might build into something, but never strays from the reliance on easy, brooding riffs. Sure, tempo change is nice, but do something with that-and Pelican never does. The result comes off sort of like a metal sound check on steroids.
Pelican sounds confused, and maybe that’s how they want to sound-but they also sound like they suffer from thematic ineptitude and that comes off as rambling guitars which gets boring and repetitive. Percussion and bass take a back seat to the guitar work, but not because they should. An hour of instrumentals might encourage some bands to experiment, but not Pelican. They stay tried and true to keeping the six-string front and center.
Pelican’s strongest work is halfway through the record where the mood changes, and they bring it down a notch. The only title-less track on Fire in our Throats is the most interesting one. Slower and softer, with the spice of acoustic guitars and maracas, this should be Pelican’s bread and butter. For all the heavy petting, Pelican is a big tease. They play the good stuff like it’s a guilty pleasure because on the next track they start out with that sorta-Soundgardenish plus late-90s NÅ Metal repetitive crap that makes my temples throb and by the end of it, they’re chock full of angst.
“Aurora Borealis” is the other bright spot on an otherwise bloated release. The introduction builds gently and climaxes just at the right point in the song, with the right balance of drum work and ends with pointed crash of the cymbals, letting sounds other than guitar stand out. It’s a fine example of what can be done when forced to exercise some restraint.
It’s a nice concept but I don’t feel the fire, especially not from Pelican’s throats. The second half opus would be a good release if they ditched the first half’s sloppy grunge casserole. Fire in our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw is a nice try, but a little more growth from Pelican and some artistic restraint would go a long way.
Thin to win, baby.