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Pelican - Nighttime Stories

Label: Southern Lord
Format: Download
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/10

Full instrumental albums generally need a focus on virtuoso leads with big personalities to garner attention, which tends to put albums like this in a difficult spot.


The emphasis on Pelican’s “Nighttime Stories” is on the creativity and the songwriting. These instrumentals don’t exist as excuses for 24-finger tapping flourishes; they instead live in worlds of fascinating progressions and interesting transitions between guitar tones and chords and riffs. They jump from slow muted hugs to clean strums of uncommon chords, with the drums sometimes transforming from alt-rock shuffles into Death Metal speeds in the same song, like some DJ doing a mashup of Morbid Angel drums behind a Foo Fighters song. Sometimes like Satriani without the blister and the wah. You could maybe also draw an Explosions in the Sky comparison, but Pelican are a bit more engaging, less ambient space-out than that tends to be.
The song titles on “Nighttime Stories” are generally as thought-provoking as the constructs: “It Stared at Me,” “Arteries of Blacktop,” “Full Moon, Black Water,” “Abyssal Plain.” With no lyrics, they tend to be whatever the mind conjures in connection with the name and the sounds contained within.
I can’t predict super stardom for Pelican, but I can predict a deeply satisfying experience for attentive music geeks. Give these stories a read.

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