When an album with a pelican shooting lasers from its eye’s lands on your desk, you listen to the Pelican Clark Kent record as soon as you possibly can. This is a given.
When said record has a French bulldog flying a rocket plane, you just stop asking questions. Logan Rex (vocals), Adam Kampf (drums), Chris Montague (guitar), Fabian Acuña (bass), and Christopher Cope (keys), featuring Little Stranger and The Elovaters on a track each, usher in their first full-length record as Artikal Sound System, Welcome to Florida.
It is worth noting up front the sentiment of the record is best summarized in the chorus from “Happy” which prominently sways to “I can be what I choose to be, so why don’t I choose happy?” Welcome to Florida has this lingering sensation it is playing safe while only giving the occasional glimpse into what is sure to set Artikal Sound System into a full-bore success. For example, Logan Rex’s vocals subtleties on album opener “Stayed” edge close to a gravelly vocal sound that doesn’t really come up again. The ravenously catchy “When I Wanna” leans into a sultry R&B presence that absolutely kills; paired with Little Stranger and this is the dominating track of the record. Acuna, Kampf, Montague, and Cope carry a heavy task of pairing with Rex’s vocals, but collectively, masterfully craft a beachscape of intricacies that are warm beach nights, good drinks, and damn fine tunes. Even though there is a sense of safety, it is only if you come up for air you begin to notice this and by the time that happens, you’re already hooked. The chill grooves find their way to pulse-driving beats as we walk the warm landscape of Welcome. Intentionally or not, what the record achieves is a sense of cultural and lifestyle diversity which is a melting pot of pop, R&B, Reggae, and Caribbean jazz influence all spun on a turntable and blasted out to the sand-covered dance floor. It couldn’t be more Florida, in all the right ways. It is twelve-tracks of warm happiness.
Unlikely to create controversy, because let’s face it, Spotify won’t show you the Kryptonian Pelican (they can use that for their next album title), Welcome to Florida is a soothing jam of modern relationship-laden sentiment flowing amply over twelve solid tracks.