Pelican – What We All Come To Need

By Jonathan Smith

Bass lovers unite! Instrumentalist band Pelican released their fourth album, What We All Come To Need, back in October 2009. However, it’s only recently that the disc was brought to my attention, and what a missed gem it has turned out to be! Late to the party this review may be, the timing couldn’t be better, as the album is perfect for the summer. It’s got style, energy, and moves along at the sort of brisk pace that suits living in a city doing its best to defy the incoming summer heat. While it isn’t always original (it’s got that mixture of psychedelic and post-metal influences that are seen in many bands these days), it’s confident in what it offers.

When I describe Pelican’s sound as “bloated,” it’s a compliment. Opening track “Glimmer” offers up the fat, buzzing, bass-heavy sound that is definitely the band’s staple on this outing, showcasing everything from pummelling and rhythmic chord progressions to more lazy, slow-tempo sections. “Ephemeral” starts off with a slightly predictable rock music swagger before converting itself into a crashing finale. “Specks of Light” features a middle section that gives the bass guitar the space that it is often denied in many sub-genres before the melancholy plucks of a guitar come back into focus. Closing track “Final Breath” slows things down significantly, its soft, background vocals the closest thing to singing that exists on the album. It’s a bit of a let-down after the pace set by the majority of the record, but a track that still ends things with an enormous metallic crunch. Pelican are not pushing the envelope here, just taking the usual rock/metal elements and making a racket worth listening to on “repeat.” What We All Come To Need isn’t new news by this point, but it’s a real recommend for anyone looking for a heavy album that trims away most of the muscular excesses of progressive and noise metal while still that retaining their heavy-hitting skeletons. 

(Southern Lord Records)

Rating: 8.5

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.