The Besnard Lakes

Are The Roaring Night

An entertaining trope suggests the tragedy of Canada is that it could have had a British government, French culture, and American know-how, only to end up with British know-how, French government, and American culture. Or was it that Canada could have had British culture, French cuisine, and American technology, and instead it has American culture, British cuisine, and French technology? I suppose what makes this curious is that the jibe at American culture stays the same in both. This in musical terms of course, is no bad thing. Just as great Canadians like The Band, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young carved themselves a path through this American tradition using craft, artfulness and subtlety, it seems that Besnard Lakes are, on their third long player, attempting to do the same. They possess a similar diligence of craft, married to lyrical subjectivity to a kaleidoscopic yet sublime effect.

That is not to say that Are the Roaring Night is a faultless affair. But this is a deep, dreamy and even surreal listen that takes the listener on an intense trip via a wash of guitar distortion and the floating vocals of husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. Try to imagine Bill Drummond forming Jesus and Mary Chain, or even Ride, and sculpt the results into the mountain ranges north of the Hudson. From the short wave messaging code that trickles into the record’s intro, one is immediately immersed in psychedelic evocations of colour, fire and smoke; sea eagles, sunsets, star gazing.

The atmosphere isn’t always held – ‘Chicago Train’ ends up running out of track – but follower Albatross sees Goreas’ velvet vocal stretched across a sparkling Cocteaus guitar. ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ has a beguiling apache backbeat that would have Klaus Dinger whooping from his tomb as it resonates with the growls and groans of guitars. One can only pray that this might be the next single.

Certain morsels of information received this end attempt to explain Are The Roaring Night as some kind of apolocyptic vision. A twisting chronicle of spies, double agents, of coded messages to fight a war that may not be real. Sometimes it can feel that the ideas are stretched a little thing, becoming lost in the hazy riffs. But like those great Canadian artists who have gone before them the Besnards deserve to break free from the constrains of the northern territories that they evoke. They certainly have the tools, the craft and indeed the know-how, American or otherwise. This album is a blinding listen, interesting, deep and indeed beautiful to behold.

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