Most helpful positive review
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Ths is one dark horse worth putting money on
on 21 February 2007
The first truly great album of 2007 is upon us. The Besnard Lakes are a Canadian band who like compatriots The Arcade Fire are deliciously difficult to pigeonhole so I won't bother. Except to say that if you conjured up Mercury Rev covering Fleetwood Mac in the style of My Bloody Valentine then you would only get half way to describing the sound this band make.
Lead by Jake Lasek whose vocals veer from lighter under the bollocks falsetto to cavernous depthsthis band also includes his wife Olga Goreas who provides sultry vocal backing and vocals for"Devastation" .They also recruit Sophie Trudeau from God Speed You Black Emporer to play violins on a couple of tracks and this band also share some their more progressive tendencies. Using a bewildering array of instrumentation including synthesizer, organ, glockenspiel saxophone, horns, strings and for" Devastation" a choir The Bernard Lakes take every song on the album to some tumultuous peak where the music makes an audacious sidestep. "And You Lied To Me" reaches a point around two thirds in where
the guitars suddenly begin their version of a duel at dawn, slashing across each other like six stringed Light sabres in a display of virtuoso playing not equalled since The Butthole Surfers "Hairway To Steven".
Yet opening track "Disaster "despite its portentous title is a creamy reverb drenched pop wonder and hearing that alone would give you a wonderful if slightly disingenuous overview of the bands oeuvre. "For
Agent 13" the husband and wife dominate a slow liquefying of chords and notes that sounds like some kind of orgasmic transmutation. "And You Lied To Me" and Devastations "are multi-faceted epics, the arrangements, melodies and instrumentation going off at so many tangents it's like hearing the songs with 3D earphones. "Because Tonight" is more grounded and stately yet still approximates a genre it's a stretch to describe .Haunted lost space ballad anyone?.....The jabbering taut strings over a crisp repetitive guitar motif and theechoing choral effects give this song a peculiar spectral ambience. "Ride The Rails" contrasts high range weeping strings against a thunderous psych rock groove from some seventies temporal shift while "On Bedford And Grand" whilst being the albums weakest track is still a perverse mixture of chugging ELO like
chords and dissonant textures. The final Beach Boy pastiche of "Cedrics War" melds surfer bum vocal harmonies to divergent arpeggiated rhythms and off kilter percussion.
A fascinating album this, rich with disparate influences, conflicted interpretations and often more ideas in one song than most bands manage in a career. Rarely is music as densely textured as this so full of contrasting ideas and so lavishly enjoyable to listen to. Succulent melodies hung on the most tangled of thickets this is one dark horse anyone with any sense or appreciation of challenging cerebral music should be backing.