The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
Label: Jagjaguwar Records
Released: February 20, 2007
Every now and then a release floors me due to amazing creativity. Fronted by a Canadian husband and wife duo, The Besnard Lakes created an astounding eight song masterpiece full of psychedelic guitars, classical instrumentation, beautiful vocal harmonies and post-rock influenced atmospheres. I would be shocked if my parents could even do a puzzle together anymore, but Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas raised a big middle finger to “irreconcilable differences” and produced The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse. I wouldn’t be surprised if they even eat dinner together, how medieval.
This album was completely recorded by Lasek and Goreas in their home studio. And by the feel of some of their songs, the area probably has plenty of polyester and wood paneling. “Disaster” and “Cedric’s War”, the bookends of the album, envelope the release in a general feeling of nostalgia. Lasek has a high-pitched tenor that is soft and yet would still sound right fronting a more guitar heavy sound.
I wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true, but listen to the beginning melody of “Disaster” and tell me The Beach Boys don’t come to mind. I am aware that this analogy is thrown around more often than the phone when Ryan calls at 3 AM and just needs “a little money for bail”, but this sounds just like the revered group. The closer features ringing guitars that descend and meander, creating an atmosphere more effectively than some authors. The song ends with a 70’s rock influenced guitar solo and light background vocals, leaving the listener with a thirst for times gone by. Or in my case, a strange urge to call Uncle Ricky and ask “So, you just let it dissolve on your tongue?”
“You Lies To Me” is where experimental rock a la Pink Floyd is given a modern facelift. The low, throbbing bass makes the pedal-heavy guitars sound even more majestic. Most of the songs are over five minutes long and take their sweet time to find the always-worthy climax. “Because Tonight” is a very slow moving track that sets up the apex (how pretentious) with a beautiful yet frantic violin and string solo. The result is soaring vocals by the duo that might be enough to save any marriage.
Just like Holy Matrimony, music is a constant blending of ideas and influences. The Besnard Lakes represent this notion better than most, as they continue to experiment and create music that is wholly theirs, yet pays homage to so many great musicians and styles. A release as diverse as The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse might make you do a little extra searching for common themes. But the way I see it, that’s half the fun.
Recommended If You Like: Pink Floyd, prenuptial agreements, The Beach Boys, The Raconteurs, VW vans