Review: Besnard Lakes, "Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night"

March 9, 2010


Evocatively named for a remote and gorgeous body of water in North-Central Saskatchewan and led by the husband-and-wife team of guitarist-vocalist Jace Lasek and bassist-vocalist Olga Goreas, who spend their days running Montreal's hip Breakglass Studios, the Besnard Lakes have built a devoted cult following over the course of two albums ("Volume One" in 2003 and "The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse" in 2007) that found a middle ground between the folkie, back-to-nature sounds and vibes of so-called "beard rock" (think indie raves such as Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes) and the early '90s psychedelia of shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Ride. It's a big, sprawling sound that the group likes to explore on big, sprawling songs, and its third album is its most epic offering yet.

Featuring not one but two stunning two-part suites--"Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent" and "Land of the Living Skies"--"...Are the Roaring Night" is an expansive canvas leisurely colored with muted, twilight tones, courtesy of hazy walls of guitar, whispered harmony vocals and sleepwalking rhythms. In fact, it may be a bit too sleepy for anyone with attention deficit disorder--nothing here rocks as hard or feels as immediate as the last album's standout, "Devastation." But for those who relish losing themselves in great, enveloping washes of sound, it's irresistible--and it's just a bonus that it includes the best enigmatic Chicago anthem since the Handsome Family's "The Giant of Illinois," via the hypnotic "Chicago Train."