Music review: Pelican Shuffles’ new EP Battleground Dreams is an alt-rock triumph
Pelican Shuffles’ second EP 'Battleground Dreams' is vastly more concerned with setting an overarching temper than the first one - a cloudy weekend kind of a temper, the kind where you don’t have to work and have no plans in place. The city-based band has self-confessedly admitted to sticking to a rock-heavy soundscape for their debut EP, but for this 19: 22-minute outing, they have significantly divergent leanings; we mean streamlined percussions, propulsive blues-like sequences, which make the tracks sound really seasoned. That’s not to say, their new line-up forgoes allegiances to rock; by the band’s own assessment, tracks like ‘Saturday Morning’ have an upbeat neo-garage momentum, reminiscent of mid-era The Strokes.
“We were more conscious about the sound this time, and went for something more versatile and we were open to a lot of ideas; instrumentally, we explored quite a bit. The first EP had a live effect, and we’d just walked into the studio and had fun while playing together. This time, we gave it more thought. There were times when we changed something while we were recording the track,” band frontman and songwriter Varun Gujadhur, tells us.
The EP, we are told, is about conflicting dreams and hopes, but we were happy with the lack of any dourness which you might expect to hear in an EP, experimenting with alt-rock, or addressing fulfilment. Battleground Dreams is produced by guitarist Rohan Ganguli, mixed by Abhibroto Mitra mastered by Sara Carter, and was recorded at Blooperhouse Studios; the EP has five tracks, all of which are amazingly in sync with the undemanding, easy-listening oeuvre which is a niche that obviously works for Pelican Shuffles. The extended play is immensely listenable, you can almost hear how organically the non-pensive progression shaped up.
Saturday Morning, for instance, is a song about a Friday night hangover and opens with a strutting, pop-adjacent tempo. Gujadhur’s lyrics are focused on riding out the rhythm-driven arrangements. The 3:50 minute long 'Why Did You Do It', is great on many counts, it’s anchored by hook-heavy grooves, and has quite a few unpredictable shifts midway through the outro. Interestingly, you can listen to the first two tracks on a loop many times, without tiring yourself out.
'Foolish Beings' takes a gambit by focusing on earnest, reflective lyrics like “We are just foolish beings/ We are never satisfied/ When scared of our feelings/ We don’t know where to hide," and the slow-rolling notes towards the end have a gorgeous, early Elvin Bishop vibe. 'Cold Shadows' is one of the longest numbers in the EP, and it has grounded, reverb-laced guitar parts. The 4: 05-minute number has a lot of emotive rock energy and flawless vocals.
Dreams is the fifth track of the record; it begins on an easy note and switches up the intensity one and a half minutes into the number, and aspires towards something more textural. It also has significant retro influences but doesn’t overwork them. The EP has a surprisingly lenient tonality and doesn’t wear out your senses; that is, even if you want more galloping basslines or a more self-aggrandizing arrangement, you won’t mind the fact that Battleground Dreams aspires for an avant-pop sound.
Battleground dreams is out on all streaming platforms. Listen to the EP here.