Pelican’s biggest failings stem from what it doesn’t do. The group’s last album, City Of Echoes, seemed to have every intention of being a definitive work of melodic, instrumental post-metal. Instead, it sounded muffled and underdone, full of songs that had decent riffs and bursts of brilliance, but simply couldn’t cohere into anything particularly compelling or powerful. With its fourth full-length, What We All Come To Need, the quartet appears set to make another go at godhood. And again, it misses. The guitars are huge. The drumming is fine. But the disc falls a few inches shy of the group’s tantalizingly elusive potential. The problem is that Pelican hedges its every bet: Never entirely focused, dynamic, or epic, Need wanders from riff to riff in a disengaged fog that confuses lethargy with heaviness. Even a rare vocal guest-spot—The Life And Times’ Allen Epley pops up on “Final Breath”—can’t command attention. There’s no doubt at this point that Pelican is an influential and even moderately important band. Now it just needs to get its ass in gear and become a truly great one.
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