Review: The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

Published at URB.com

The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
Released by Jagjaguwar

It’s difficult to make psychedelica-tinged classic rock stand out from the genre’s storied pioneers. And it’s even harder to update that sound without wading into nostalgic waters, but Canadian indie-rock group The Besnard Lakes can claim successes on that shore with their brand of gritty, atmospheric rock. On their latest, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, the four-piece band—started by husband and wife Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas—continue in their Polaris Prize-nominated trajectory, melding traditional guitar-driven rock with impassioned crescendos, trippy vocal harmonies and sophisticated layers.

Less stoner-y than labelmates Black Mountain, but more organic than fellow Montrealers Arcade Fire, The Besnard Lakes are in a Canadian class all their own. Creating colossal waves of sound, tiered, loud and beautiful enough to make the most passive listener feel exposed, the band typifies the assumed isolated wilderness of their name. Lead single “Albatross” teams upbeat, fuzzy guitars and clean harmonics with Goreas’ sweet, wholesome vocals. On “Last Train To Chicago” the band proves their mastery of the “drop”—it starts with a woozy, slightly pastoral building of noise before the key changes and drums pick up the pace. “Glass Printer” features a barely there bassline, which provides an almost-imperceptible groove to sunny vocals and spacey guitars, and “Light Up The Night” punctuates a ’60s-style doowop melody with a wailing guitar solo.

Taking a til-it-explodes approach to songwriting it’s difficult to be nuanced, but The Besnard Lakes understand how to use delicate sounds to forge a naïve path to a cinematic crux. This dynamism is ambitious but it’s conquered unwaveringly on this eleven-track record.—Anupa Mistry