Pelican – City Of Echoes
'City Of Echoes', the third album from instrumental post-metallers Pelican is certainly a dreary affair. Maybe I don't have the patience for songs that stretch past the five-minute mark, or perhaps I simply cannot relate to songs without lyrics: either way Pelican are not my cup of tea. I suppose then, that this review should stop here; I have little of substance to add that couldn't be summed up by Little Britain's wheelchair-bound hero and his infamous catchphrase. But alas, I have both a page to fill and an explanation to offer – who'd of thought clutching at straws could be such fun?
My first gripe with the band is the complete lack of words, spoken or sung. I know that this probably sounds rather ignorant – after all plenty of people enjoy classical music – however when Pelican claim the record focuses on the "homogenous effects of globalization", I think I am excused in wanting a touch more than an intricate guitar riff and a thumping bassline to ponder over. I am willing to give time to listen to anyone with a message to convey provided that message is communicated in a form I can understand: whilst I can appreciate the subtleties in an impatiently plucked violin piece for example, I struggle to gain a tangible meaning solely from crashing cymbals underpinning distorted guitars.
Second on the list of shortcomings is musical monotony, a rather ironic grievance from someone who lists punk-rock as their genre of choice. Filling forty-two minutes with three different instruments – two guitars, a bass and a drum kit – is no easy task, but it appears Pelican ran out of ideas partway through. Riffs begin to sound the same, chord progressions become predictable and the whole album starts to blend into one long song that reminds me of a child digging its heels in the sand because they don't want to leave the park. I could continue listing defects for another few paragraphs; however I fear I would end up sounding bitter and pedantic. So I'll quit whilst I'm ahead and save you from my drivel. Sorry to disappoint.
Despite the faults I've mentioned, 'City Of Echoes' does succeed in a 'background noise' capacity – though I'm fairly sure this is the opposite of what the band intended. Though not a dedicated disciple, I am partial to the odd slice of metal when the mood suits: Pelican are certainly adept musicians, if not talented songwriters, and provided their work isn't the centre of attention it does offer a pleasant accompaniment to mundane tasks.
As I've made clear; I don't like this album at all, however, my disdain is drawn from style not execution. If you were not put off by the instrumental-only tag and you have a soft spot for metal, you might well be able to uncover hidden meanings that I cannot and get some enjoyment out of this CD. As for me? A firm no thank-you.