The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night is the 3rd album by the titular Canadian band. And it is a strong contender for album of the year so far. Not a great claim in March, but I am confident it will be there or thereabouts come December.
After the first 30 seconds of opening track ‘Like The Ocean Like The Innocent’ I was sceptical. I’ve heard enough meandering drone rock to last me a lifetime, but nine minutes later at the end of the track I was a convert. This is music with substance and power.
The overall sound sits somewhere between Yo La Tengo and Arcade Fire, with a healthy dose of the Beach Boys thrown in. On the aforementioned opening track singer and guitarist sounds a lot like Beach Boy Carl Wilson as he keeps his falsetto at full blast throughout. He is wise enough to know that this could grate over the course of the album and he mixes this with a deeper sound on many songs and also shares vocals with his wife Olga Goreas.
It is the bands ability to mix up styles, but retain an identifiable sound, that lifts them above the sludge of many other shoe-gazing space rock acts. There is a clear prog rock influence, and the Beach Boys pop is there as well, but they also know how to rock. Just when you’ve started to get used to their sound they throw in ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ and bring some classic rock riffs to the fore.
There are a number of bands around who produced this kind of epic soaring guitar music but not many do it as well (only Sigur Ros spring to mind). This is a very rare kind of album as it walks a fine line between rock cliché, pompous self-indulgence and earnestness and gets it just right.
This album makes me want to go straight back to the record shop and buy everything the band has released before, and that for me is a true sign of a great piece of work.
By Dorian Rogers, March 2010