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The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
Format: Audio CDChange
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I picked up on this band through a download of Chicago public radio's review of their work and couldn't get the sound out of my head, now being a suspicious old grey head of many a band that didn't stand up to detailed listening, I visited trusty Amazon and chose out of habit an earlier work, see where they were coming from- thus- The Dark Horse.
My first feeling was `Ohh dear, too impulsive in that purchase. S' quality but not quite to my tastes' But a little later... let's not be hasty in the judgements, I says, so I resolved to listen to it again... and again... and again. Yep! It grows on one, very quickly indeed
Oh man this is quality and no mistake! And for once I'm not too sure where to start. There are haunting voices, drifting in and out of the music, which is a beautiful textured sound of guitars, keyboards (of many sorts) strings and steady percussion. It is difficult to separate one song out for praise because the whole work runs seamlessly in a journey through a rich, uneasy landscape. Now I've been a veteran of a few of this sort and am pleased to report this one is not depressing. Besnard Lakes have found a balance between captivating their audience and entertaining them (not a dirty phrase in my book!).
It is hard to avoid an instinctive urge to compare Besnard Lakes with Arcade Fire (Canadian, adventurous, many layered), but on deeper listening Besnard Lakes are their own band, slower, quieter. Thankfully there is room in anyone's world for both bands.
I'm late on finding them, but intend to make up for lost time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2007
I discovered this band when checking the recommends associated with Camera Obscura on Napster. I think. This album is different (it really is!) and one of the most interesting I have heard in a while and very accessible. Vocal harmonies, edgey stuff with some great guitar sound judiciously used. Reminds me a little of Hal. Lead singer cites Yes as one of his influences / fave bands! Kudos. Devastation is a fantastic track.
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on 4 May 2007
Have to agree totally with Russell the first reviewer on this one. He describes the sound and feel of this album perfectly. I bought it based on a review that made it sound like my sort of thing and I am not disappointed. Fabulous vocals, gorgeous melodies but something different too. I love the unusual and this is like nothing I have heard before. Give it a listen.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I had never heard of this band until last month. Every year I go to the Greenman Festival, and it was on the Greenman festival site that I first read about them, so i decided to investigate....

The first thing I did was to look on YouTube, where I found a myriad of stunning songs and performances. One track stood out. "You Lied To Me". This is off THIS album, and is up there with some of the best things I have ever heard (and I am going back over 40 years). The second thing I did was to listen to them...again, again and again. They should have been called "Led Television", sounding like both bands at times....

Soooo....on the back of what i had seen and heard I ordered this album and the latest - "Roar of the Night".

The first album is particularly outstanding.... the opening track, with The Beach Boys'esque harmonies and a killer riff in between made my hair stand on end. The second album is less immediate, but worth persevering with. Neither is expensive !!!!

And on the back of hearing their stuff I'll be seeing them at Greenman this year.

Explore and enjoy.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I don't know about you, but I've always found that quasi-ecstatic rock of bands like Arcde Fire slightly creepy, as if they're evangelizing the power of their music. The Besnard Lakes have elements of that sound with the neo-classical arrangements and huge array of instruments, but they have an ace up their sleeves in the form of their Beach Boys-esque harmony singing and some old school rock guitar solos.
One thing I will take issue with, though, is the Low comparisons. At Low's core is the simplicity of their sound - three people playing their instruments and singing their songs - and that's what sets them apart. Maybe if the Besnards learn to trim down their musical palette they'll one day approach an inkling of what Low have achieved.
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