[sic] Magazine

The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

When the dust finally settled in Montreal after two straight years of its scene exploding, few bands were left truly unscathed away from the hype machine’s glare. As with any scene there were true trailblazers, similarly also-rans, and the least said about the never-should-have-turned-ups the better. Happily, The Besnard Lakes found themselves resolutely in the former category. The epic and lightly psychedelic alt-rock found on 2007’s … Are The Dark Horse opulently swung from Grandaddy -gone-beefy hunting grounds to slow-rolling, Black Mountain -like jams.

In their current and third incarnation as … The Roaring Night, The Besnard Lakes remain an if-it-ain’t-broke collective led by the husband-and-wife efforts of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek . Recorded at Lasek’s own Breakglass Studios with a vintage, 1968 Neve germanium mixing console (as used to record portions of Led Zeppelin ‘s Physical Graffiti), this latest album immediately inhabits a nostalgic, timeless space.

The second part of “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent” opens with an pure, atmospheric vocal that bobs prettily atop the widescreen and controlled psych-rock. Guitar drones duly ebb and flow, and heavier riffs foam sporadically throughout its luxurious seven minutes. The first part of the same track is merely instrumental scene setting and together they could have sat perfectly unnoticed on the preceding album.

The ethereal beauty of “Chicago Train” is difficult to pin down, achingly forlorn, but greatly powerful as a late key change deviates it into more comfortably rocking waters. The lead single “Albatross” encroaches on shoegazing territory. Full of washing “oohs” and fuzzy guitars, it splits the difference between Mazzy Star ‘s dream-pop and The Cocteau Twins ‘ diaphanous sway. The toe-tapping stomp of “Light Up The Night” offers a strong close again in line with early Black Mountain work.

Whilst the odd drawn-out extension may feel aimless rather than epic, the odd lyric laboured, and while there may be no moments to rival the majestic power of … The Dark Horse’s “Devastation”, … Are The Roaring Night is nevertheless a solid riposte to the weight of expectation that it brought.