Well met, knaves, rogues, and scoundrels.

I’ve been a fan of the Chicago band Pelican since I first heard Australasia on a late-night drive about six or seven years ago.  The lack of vocals, the chiming guitars over the heavily distorted low end, and the frigid post-punk atmosphere made for a memorable ride home.

Pelican’s latest, their fourth full-length (and first for new label Southern Lord) — What We All Come to Need — was released at the end of October. Being that I’ve been busy with all manner of personal shit away from testing boomerangs and chronicling doom, I am only now getting to it.

Need opens with ”Glimmer,” which serves as a primer for the rest of the album.  The band breaks away from the terse rigidity of a lot of their past records with a very free and open sound.  It almost sounds like friends jamming in a garage somewhere, playing with various themes and textures.  Ben Verellen (of defunct hardcore act Harkonen) adds extra bass to the track.  He is one of a few guests on the record; the mighty Greg Anderson lends extra guitars to “The Creeper,” a doomy track with loads of groove, and perhaps to show that there are no hard feelings for the band leaving his Hydra Head Records, Aaron Turner contributes some psychedelic guitar trickery to the album’s title track.

The gloriously metallic ”Ephemeral” originally appeared on last summer’s Ephemeral EP.  It has been re-recorded for this album, as well as “An Inch Above Sand” which originally appeared on a recent split single with Louisville band, Young Widows.

The final track, the rising and falling ”Final Breath” actually features vocals — Allen Epley (Life & Times) delivers a  subdued interpretation of the Robert Burns’ poem “Red, Red Rose” over a tide of arpeggiated guitars and the kind of yearning, reaching chord progressions that Pelican are known for.

All in all, What We All Come to Need is a solid addition to Pelican’s mostly outstanding catalog.  Four full-length albums in and obviously the band is restructuring and reinventing.  This latest offering is a good indication that they’re off to a good start.

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About the Author

Ben Wiser

Test of the Boomerang is an in-depth exploration of some of the best material found on the Live Music Archive.

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