THURSDAY, APRIL 30, 2009|
The Coward and the Pelican are a band of fresh-faced youngsters from Montreal, Quebec, a city that has for some time now been known as a Mecca for independent music. It is perhaps fitting then that Philippe St-Louis, his brother Etienne, their sister Evelyne, their cousin Carmen Madfouny and their friends Simon Mercier-Nguyen and Emma Glasser, all Montreal natives, have joined together in forming The Coward and the Pelican. On the band's debut Silhouettes EP they bring all the energy of their youth along with a maturity in musical composition that is beyond their years.
Upon first listen of The Coward and the Pelican's Silhouettes EP, it becomes immediately apparent that this isn't your average band of youngsters. Along with guitar and drums (the staple instruments in rock bands worldwide) they also have a violinist, trumpet player, and flutist. And after listening to band after band of guitar, drums and bass, it becomes sort of refreshing to hear some new sounds enter into the mix. The fact that all the members of the band are still in University, some fresh out of high school makes their sound even more impressive.
The EP is strong from start to finish. The opening track, "Let's Dress Up Again" displays the band's lighthearted innocence, while at the same time showcases that they really know how to handle their instruments. The song plays out as a love song but has this cute back-story about dressing up for Halloween ("Scar on his face, his wicked wooden leg, they made my heart race"). "The Peasants Lament" starts out with dramatic pizzicato violin, piano and flute, until the violins and trumpet take over, quickening the pace of this song's film-score like introduction. Eventually, Evelyne and brother Philippe begin to sing in turn, while the backing vocals give the song its emotional appeal.
Now would normally be the time when I would talk about the album's potential missteps and pitfalls, but there are truly none to speak of on this beautifully crafted EP. The final three songs continue along with the same energy and song crafting excellence that was displayed on the first two. The band shows their softer side on "Edmond Arfuite", a ballad composed solely of piano and melodica. This song is also the only song on the EP that is sung entirely in French by Philippe, with sister Evelyne providing a spattering of backup vocals near the end.
Usually a band's first recordings are rough sounding and at times awkward, as it sometimes takes time for a band to develop and come into their own. This just simply isn't the case with the Coward and the Pelican's debut. The Silhouettes EP, while still having that raw unpolished feeling of a band's first recording, manages to show that while these guys may be young, they are definitely talented. Perhaps even more so than some of the bands out there that have been putting out albums for years and have garnered world-wide fame. This is just about as strong a start for a band as could be imagined and while what the future holds for them may be unknown, things are certainly looking good.