Release Date: Mar 9, 2010
Record label: Jagjaguwar
With this, their third album, The Besnard Lakes have crafted an elegant apocalypse of a record, a world where the atmosphere is forever dictated by the fallout that locks everything in crepuscular gloom, dispelling any conventional sense of time or place. Like the fire and smoke that create a heady mix of orange, purple and red on the album’s cover, any sense of beauty comes from a dead eyed fascination with the vengeful splendour that engulfs the horizon. Even Jase Lasek’s explanation of their moniker hints at the theme of human isolation in the face of a grand and powerful beauty.
A few days ago, I read this rather cringe-worthy quote from some Amazon fan describing 30 Seconds to Mars:"30 Seconds to Mars draws a heavy influence from classic prog bands like Pink Floyd". Modern rock is rubbish. As years keep passing by, it’s unfortunate how modern rock, as an institution, slowly (and painfully) becomes a parody of its former self.
You can only be the dark horse once. The Besnard Lakes may have been a (mostly) unknown quantity when they broke out to a wider audience in 2007, but they were also insiders of sorts-- guitarist/vocalist Jace Lasek had done production work with Montreal heavyweights Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. Fitting of its title, Are the Dark Horse had a subtle, almost shy, quality-- on many songs, the group's quiet side slowly swelled into a symphony.
It’s an epic quest — one with teeth bared, vocal cords strained, and eyelids drooped. One with seven-minute opuses, blown-out walls of sound, and evenly harmonized boy-girl vocals, where stage lights appear behind eyelids even with the doors closed and headphones on. And it’s a quest through time and compositional prowess as much as through the night about which The Besnard Lakes opine so vehemently.
Beginning with the first of two two-part songs, this being titled "Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent," The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, even more than the group's first two albums, feels like the band's bid for some sort of new prog rock status now that the term is no longer a dirty word. (Not for nothing, perhaps, is one song later in the album called "And This Is What We Call Progress. ") Certainly the combination of howling guitar and moody drones that kicks things off feels more than a little at home with Pink Floyd 1975, say, not to mention the high-pitched vocals of Jace Lasek, but the drums sound much more Dave Fridmann than Nick Mason.
Like their last album, the Besnard Lakes’ new album cover features a good amount of flames. Where before the fire rose around the dark horse, here it is off in the distance, with a huge expanse of water—perhaps Saskatchewan’s Besnard Lake itself—between us and all the burning. But there’s something unnerving about it. There’s the possible town that’s burning to the ground, sure.
Long-time stars of the Canadian indie-rock firmament deliver a fine third album. James Skinner 2010 Long-time stars of the Canadian indie-rock firmament, at The Besnard Lakes’ core is husband-and-wife duo Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek, creators of 2007’s …Are The Dark Horse album, an alternately intimate and grandiose set which clocked in at a svelte 45 minutes. With …Are the Roaring Night they delve deeper into the glittering soundscapes that have become synonymous with their sound; sacrificing something of the warmth that marked their previous work, they nonetheless emerge with a thoroughly impressive, coherent whole.
On their previous album, The Besnard Lakes were the dark horse, and now they are the roaring night. The shapeshifting comes only in name, though, as the band could have just as easily named their new album The Besnard Lakes Are the Most Consistent Rock Band On Earth. If you’re familiar with Are the Dark Horse, you might do a double take when listening to Are the Roaring Night, because at first blush it sounds exactly the same – the same production values, the same bombastic delivery, the same sweet harmonies.
After playing The Dark Horse with 2007's sophomore album, the Besnard Lakes now inhabit The Roaring Night, filling the darkening parameters with an expansive crush of guitar battered swells and gorgeously rent atmospherics. Helmed by husband-and-wife duo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, the Montreal quartet opens on two-part epic "Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent," gradually eclipsing the dark ambience with heavy melodic riffs. High, unintelligible vocals floating through the beginning of "Chicago Train" suggest Sigur Rós before ceding to scarring riffs, while "Albatross" dreams Mazzy Star into the Sonic Youth scrawl of "Glass Printer.