Tracklist1. Bliss in Concrete
2. City Of Echoes
3. Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed
4. Winds With Hands
5. Dead Between The Walls
6. Lost In The Headlights
7. Far From Fields
8. Delicate Sense Of Balance
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Over the past few years, the genre of post-rock has sky-rocketed in popularity. Many thanks go to Pelican for helping this happen. Their past two albums Australasia and The Fire in our Throats will Beckon the Thaw were massive and helped bridge the gap between metal and post-rock. These albums were heavy, yet atmospheric at the same time, and always left you with a punched in the gut feeling. However, Pelican’s latest affair, City of Echoes, fails to deliver that crucial blow.
After many listens to City of Echoes, I’ve realized that I can sum up the entire album with just four words and their definitions from dictionary.com. They are:
1. Not inspired; not creative or spirited
2. Having no intellectual, emotional, or spiritual excitement
The main downfall of City of Echoes is that is has no heart. Their past albums were living, breathing beings. City of Echoes is not. On City of Echoes Pelican simply sounds like a band trying to sound like Pelican and coming up short. Parts seem to have been thrown on the album as if they were Pelican requirements, making the entire album sound sloppy and incohesive. For example, “Winds with Hands” is an acoustic track, which serves absolutely no purpose on the album. All momentum created by the previous tracks is destroyed. Why? Because City of Echoes needs to have a token acoustic track on it so it can be just like its predecessors.
Besides sounding like a sloppy series of moments, another aspect of City of Echoes that is lacking is scale. Their past two albums consisted of massive songs that slowly built up to heavy climaxes. However, the songs on City of Echoes are merely bite-sized nuggets of Pelican with the majority of them sounding as if the band was consciously playing against the huge climax, thus leaving the songs sounding directionless and with no meaning. This is not the Pelican that created elephantine instrumental rock.
1. Lacking fullness or volume; weak and shrill
2. Without force or a sincere effort
One of the main reasons why the songs on City of Echoes sound dull (besides the snooze-inducing drumming) is the production. What makes Pelican, Pelican, is their heaviness. The production on their records is thick like molasses, making the guitar riffs sound huge and powerful and creating an otherworldly atmosphere. However, the production on City of Echoes is too clean, leaving the guitars sounding paper thin and weak. What is Pelican without their heavy guitars?
1. Lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory
2. Fleeting, evanescent, transient, momentary, brief
With all of this being said, there are a few moments on City of Echoes where Pelican do shine. “Bliss in Concrete” starts off the record pretty strong and gets a bit exciting 3/4 of the way through. The introduction to “Dead between Walls” is strong and exhibits your traditional Pelican, though it does sound like a knockoff of “Drought”. The best track on the album is “Far From Fields”, on which Pelican does not shy away from sounding like a post-rock band and allows the climax to come naturally without having a forced Pelican sound.
But all these moments are ephemeral. They come to treat your senses, but before you can thoroughly enjoy them they are quick to disappear and be readily replaced with the ongoing influx of dullness on City of Echoes
1. Failing to fulfill one's hopes or expectations
When you search for “Pelican” on Google, you find that it says “We're a fucking triumphant band” underneath the link to the band’s website. There is no such triumph in City of Echoes, however.