Music Reviews
The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

(Jagjaguwar) Rating - 8/10

A few days ago, I read this rather cringe-worthy quote from some Amazon fan describing 30 Seconds to Mars:

"30 Seconds to Mars draws a heavy influence from classic prog bands like Pink Floyd".

Modern rock is rubbish. As years keep passing by, it’s unfortunate how modern rock, as an institution, slowly (and painfully) becomes a parody of its former self. The radio pundits of commercial rock radio, stuck in their nostagia-tinged awareness, keep shuffling us the same wretched Ozzy and AC/DC classic tunes, playing some new neo-grunge band that intends to rip Zeppelin out of his arse without actually realizing that, in reality, it sounds more like Crüe, and the occasional grunge act to remind us how the nineties changed the face of contemporary rock forever. Conventional wisdom proves that there’s an audience who readily accepts whatever is fed to them. The typical rock fan will glorify this new product's influences and fight it to the grave, while the record labels gleefully sell to their naïveté perceptions. Some things will never change.

With their third album, Montreal sextet The Besnard Lakes apparently understand their classic rock history better than its supposed fans. The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night - another stab at naming an album with an impersonal verb – continues their path to righteousness by taking the road less taken by independent rock musicians: expanding upon an already established big sound with many of the tendencies they’re comfortable with, but upping the ante to almost messianic levels. This time around, the focus is in keeping a clear sense of atmosphere within lush, chamber orchestration pieces and amplified vibrations.

The ten tracks that compose Roaring Night seem to contextually build upon the premise of an imminent apocalypse. It starts with a ten-minute introduction called Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent, a mournful, funereal piano thrust that builds to reveal a battle between exquisite power riffs, triad chords, and elegant vocal harmonizing. Lead singer Jace Lasek falsettos in the beginning of Chicago Train, a pensive first half that gives way to a dual extravaganza between fuzzed out guitar chords and pounding drums. As Albatross gives way, the Lakes don’t have the heart to abandon their pop sensibilities, embellishing life-affirming surf harmonizing and a multifaceted crescendo of instruments.

Even if the sound is epic in scale, the Besnard Lakes’ jams always sound controlled and precise without phasing out a traditional song structure. Land of Living Skies’ seven minutes take a psychedelic turn, shifting between expansive choruses, space rock ambience, and guitar hooks. There are moments, like in Glass Printer, where they bear a resemblance to some of the dream pop elements that made past album ...Are the Dark Horse memorable. Those are kept to a minimum; in fact, much of the feedback in this album is replaced by more droned out effects, ditching any shoegaze representation, with the exception of Olga Goreas’ abstract vocals. Album closer The Lonely Moon drifts like war dust, a calm mood that reflects the aftermath of such a coarse belic conflict.

The Besnard Lakes’ take on psych-pop sounds grand and ambitious, even unpredictably accessible for those who’ve been following their career. It seems like the logical step for a band that is adamant in opposing expectations, bringing a gung- ho attitude to their studious, experimental efforts. In fact, if you strip their sound to its core, like the harmonies and the distortion, you’re left with an invariable rock record. If this isn’t a true representation of what modern rock should be, I don't know what is.