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While Pele has been dubbed post-rock by some circles of critics, Elephant (the band's third release) usurps no traditional rock song formats and doesn't embrace much more than only slight hints of modern ambient or experimental music, and frankly it would find a comfortable home in the jazz section of your local music retailer. Guitarist Chris Rosenau picks nimble, rolling riffs around which bassist Matt Tennessen and drummer Jon Mueller form a driving unit that ebbs and jumps with ease. In fact, it is Mueller's propulsive playing that makes Elephant more than just an ordinary noodle fest, providing kinetic energy and strident pacing with skittering, angular fills and layered beats. He has definitely studied his instrument, and it helps Pele's music make the leap from interesting to exceptional. Elephant offers just enough lo-fi sonic dust to seem punkish, but make no mistake, it is precisely played and elegantly constructed. But at some point, Rosenau runs out of ideas and to bridge the gap relies on repetition and force. With only seven songs barely topping out at 40 minutes total, perhaps an EP-length program would have been a better choice. [The 2003 reissue adds three bonus tracks recorded live in Japan during Pele's 2002 tour: "Safe Dolphin" and "Hospital Sports," both originally on Enemies, and "Visit Pumpy," originally found on Nudes.]

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