Originally written by Rae Amitay
Pelican has been producing their somewhat bland brand of instrumental post-metal/rock for a decade, and while it’s nothing I would deem as being particularly innovative, their music has a sludgy and emotive feel I’ve always respected. 2005’s The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw had moments of brilliance, and City of Echoes combined commercial accessibility with lovely motifs. I’d argue that their full-length works are actually much more compelling than their shorter ventures, especially compared to their thirty-minute split with Mono that just about bored me to the point of frustrated tears.
Their latest EP, Ataraxia/Taraxis, should be looked at as one long song rather than four brief tracks. Clocking in at eighteen minutes, it’s a pleasant exercise of Pelican’s post-rock chops, but it’s certainly not a necessary addition to anyone’s collection. It’s almost pointless to go in-depth describing the EP’s four songs, as they all blend together in a ‘meh’-inducing and somewhat unfocused manner. There’s simply not enough dynamic contrast offered on A/T, and it churns like an empty stomach instead of a stormy sea.
In their past, Pelican has been able to write simple riffs that still conjure up complex emotions and hold my attention. A/T just doesn’t accomplish this, and it comes across as a post-rock lullaby of sorts without enough soothing qualities to make it a worthwhile listening endeavor. “Taraxis” puts the band’s minimalism to good use, and closes the album on a comparably high note, but it can’t make up for the shallow sonic structures of the preceding songs. In short, this EP is fine. Fans of Pelican will probably find it satisfactory, but lacking strength. It’s inoffensive and occasionally enjoyable, but this is background music that is in no danger of getting stuck in one’s head.
Post-rock aficionados seeking lush textures, gripping grooves, and ample atmosphere should look elsewhere, and while I still know from their previous work that Pelican has the potential to write much better music, I’m not so sure they actually will. Their work seems to be getting progressively more predictable and watered-down, and their considerable talent has fallen victim to mostly uninspired and somnambulatory songwriting.