The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse (2007): Review

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Produced by Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas
Label – Jagjaguwar/Outside Music

The success of indie rock bands like The Arcade Fire have augmented a broadened outlook on the creative dynamic that exists when a band uses a more challenging array of instruments. It’s an accepted fact that in days gone by, indie music was arbitrarily dominated by electric guitars and synths, and the prospect of horns or strings were mainly overlooked as regression into the world of over produced mainstream. Montreal based, The Besnard Lakes think otherwise, and their imaginative sophomore release “… Are The Dark Horse”, pulls in a host of instruments to stretch and fill each song with a robust soundscape, drawing comparisons with the Phil Spector method of production, and more particularly Brian Wilson’s meticulous grandeur. Their guide is undoubtedly the glorious 60s, even down to the Duane Eddy guitar twang, and the dreamy alternating vocals of husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. However, there’s no exploitative retrograde excursion here. The step back helps the band develop their full spectrum of musical scope, turning each composition into a colossal surge of noise that is as unerringly contemporary as any current release.

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The full value of this effervescent musical outpouring is none more evident than on the opener and highlight, “Disaster”, which opens like a simple drift along a breeze of harmonies, gradually gathering pace and depth with swishing violin sweeps, reverbed guitars and thudding drums, it realizes the full kaleidoscopic ingredients that makes for a memorable experience. There’s a progressive rock aesthetic underpinning a number of songs, particularly “And You Lied To Me”, a dense rollercoaster which bows out with interstellar guitar solo’s. “Devastation” is just a huge aural onslaught from start to finish, with interspersed choir adding the hypnotic mantra of anti war propaganda played over a bedrock of pummeling drums and dual bass rhythms. The momentum is maintained throughout, bar the toned down acoustic “Cedric’s War”, which sounds like a stoned camp fire sing along and seems an odd fit in comparison to all before it. That said, it doesn’t wholly mar what is a genuinely original and mostly uplifting performance.

With a refreshing, uncontrived statement, “The Besnard Lakes Are The Black Horse” probes into some weird and wonderful crevices of the imagination.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Disaster” 5:42
2.”For Agent 13″ 5:12
3.”And You Lied to Me” 7:20
4.”Devastation” 5:50
5.”Because Tonight” 7:11
6.”Rides the Rails” 4:56
7.”On Bedford and Grand” 5:06
8.”Cedric’s War” 4:05

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5 responses to “The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse (2007): Review

  1. This is an excellent album. They’ve also got a few others under the belt but I always go back to this one. I love the beach boys vocals vibe under all the that wall of sound. They were excellent live too.

  2. Yup – this is a pretty excellent album and one that I tend to listen to often. Great band; haven’t heard their latest one, though.

    • Yeah J, like you I thought the next album 2 albums were also very good, although not quite up to this one. I might dig out last years record, next time I’m at the record store.

      • I think this one came along at the right time. It sounds like The Band or Crazy Horse covering The Beach Boys. Just incredible stuff.

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