[Jagjaguwar; 2010]

Polaris Prize nominees The Besnard Lakes have returned with their third full length album The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night; a title that perhaps suggests a lively rock or dance album, but this album is more fragile and tactful than the name suggests.

The album starts off with the first of two two-part suites that appear on the album; “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Part 1” and “…Part 2”. “Part 1” builds slowly and gracefully before the falsetto of Jace Lasek signals the beginning of “Part 2,” which over its seven minutes provides a thrill-ride of undulating guitars and pounding drums coming at you from all angles. The real treat though is the saccharine chorus which must be one of the most successful fusions of power-pop with dream-pop ever committed to tape. This is the first taste of the luscious harmonies that grace this album. Husband and wife vocalists Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas trade vocal duties throughout the album, but it is when they are combined that they reach their pinnacle.

Rarely is there a wasted second on this album; something is always holding the listener’s attention. There is a constant shifting undercurrent throughout the album created by feedback, white noise or just simple bleeps, making the album wholly engrossing. Over the top of this the guitars shift effortlessly from jangly to fuzzy; Lasek even throws in a few guitar solos, but they never sound superfluous or exhibitionist, rather they fit seamlessly into the songs. The bass and drums in the songs cut in and out artfully, never more so than on the magnificently elegant “Albatross,” making it seem lightweight yet dense.

The slower, more brooding songs make use of other instrumentation; for example “Chicago Train” consists of little other than Lasek’s falsetto floating upon a bed of fraught strings before their trusty guitars kick in at the halfway point and take the song down a more familiar path. The shimmering ballad “Light Up The Night” makes delicate use of piano and mellotron to carry it.

Overall The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night is a triumph. It combines their immense instrumental talents with their pop sensibilities in a formula that provides an irresistible song on almost every occasion. It is rare to find an album that has so much scope yet is so accessible and this is what makes The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night a gem.

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