Pelican - Nighttime Stories - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pelican - Nighttime Stories

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-06-07
Pelican - Nighttime Stories
Pelican - Nighttime Stories

As longtime post-rock torchbearers, Pelican have had quite an impressive run since releasing their self-titled E.P. nearly twenty years ago. The mid-west-based instrumental four-piece was not only at the forefront of the post-rock boom back in the early ‘00s, but they’ve managed to create a consistently compelling run of albums in the years that have followed. And now, after a nearly six-year wait, the band is set to release their latest full-length, the blissfully crushing Nighttime Stories.

The gentle, album-opening “WST” (dedicated to guitarist Dallas Thomas’ late father) quickly gives way to the bludgeoning lead-off single “Midnight and Mescaline”. While the former is a glimpse into the band’s ability to simmer, the later is a potent collection of riffs that hearkens back to the metal-leanings of the band’s debut. From there, tracks like the grinding “Cold Hope” and the explosive “Abyssal Plain” further highlight the band’s collective abilities to start and stop their assault seemingly at will.

While guitar heroics have always abounded on Pelican's releases, it’s the sibling-led rhythm section (courtesy of Bryan and Larry Herweg) that continues to be the band’s secret weapon. Be it their ability to craft a whisper-to-a-scream foundation or simply change gears on a dime, the duo has always been the glue that holds Pelican together.

Meanwhile, guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Dallas Thomas continue to find new and inventive ways to mix orchestrated melodies into their riff-driven compositions. The eight-minute, album-closing “Full Moon, Black Water” is a perfect example of this, as the song manages to ebb and flow without ever losing its sense of momentum.

Nighttime Stories is mostly comprised of tighter, concise arrangements, and in that respect, the record is more in line with the band’s recent work (like 2007’s City of Echoes), as opposed to their early, epic-laden albums. And while old-school fans might take pause with the abbreviated track-lengths, it should be noted that when taken as a whole, Nighttime Stories is easily one of the band’s most listenable albums. Rather than hammer away at the same progression for fifteen minutes at a go, Pelican has managed to refine the post-rock formula by harnessing the ever-effective power of immediacy.

From the crushing riffs and feedback-driven vamps to the quiet, pensive moments, all of the classic elements are in play here. With Nighttime Stories, Pelican has managed to craft an album that stands with their greatest work (which, for this writer, happens to be The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw); no small feat for a band coming up on their twenty year anniversary.

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