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Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 20, 2007
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Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse + Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night [Vinyl] + Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO (LP+MP3)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rich with Beach Boys style harmonies, Roy Orbison reverbs and orchestra, Pink Floyd's pacing and Freddie Mercury's falsetto, the second record by Montreal's Besnard Lakes is a luxurious foray into sound and music. They're masters of finely-honed experimental pop songs that invoke the eerie Lynchian setting as aided and abetted by the music of Julee Cruise, but on this record, the band throws into the mix a mad dash of Fleetwood Mac proportioned swagger and ambition.

It's not too hard to imagine what the Besnard Lakes' record collection might look like after hearing the eight songs here--the Beach Boys and Spiritualized taking position somewhere near the front--but that doesn't break the tantalizing spell cast by the Montréal husband-and-wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. A dreamy cocktail of West Coast harmonies, glum strings, and fuzzy psychedelic arrangements, the disc is something of a bleak masterpiece that takes after the Arcade Fire's Funeral. Songs like "Disaster" and "Devastation" (it's not too hard to detect a theme, either) rattle around on wobbly guitars and shimmering electronic effects until they spill over in a big rumpus, driven on by a six-person band and five-piece choir. The group's main attraction, however, is Goreas, who has a softly sensual voice pitched somewhere between Hope Sandoval and a wet, warm kiss behind the ear. --Aidin Vaziri

1. Disaster
2. For Agent 13
3. And You Lied to Me
4. Devastation
5. Because Tonight
6. Rides the Rails
7. On Bedford and Grand
8. Cedric's War

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 20, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • ASIN: B000M06KCA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,402 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stowaway on March 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Another amazing band emerges from Montreal, fronted by husband and wife. Main vocalist and songwriter Jace has produced Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade and more. The album features members of the Dears, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and more. The cred is there... but that doesn't always mean much.

But these guys have risen far above all that... guest appearances and past glories aside, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse is a truly surprising, original and vigorous album.

An odd and strangely appealing collection of influences come together on the record. The vocals immediately recall Brian Wilson, as do the harmonies that singer Jace writes. But these vocal sounds are set against spacey, shoegaze style backing. The songs feature slow core arrangements in the vein of Low at times. At others they take off in proggy and floydian directions. At others the carefully arranged strings and horns give a more baroque/orchestral feel. The strategically placed tremolo guitar gives a southern feel (think My Morning Jacket). The odd and exciting combinations are endless.

The Album kicks off with `Disaster', a track that starts with sweet harmonies and unique strings, then becomes entirely odd and utterly intriguing by its completion.

Track 2, `For Agent 13', is a particularly exceptional example of the eclecticism previously mentioned. It comes off like Mazzy Star collaborating with Brian Wilson on a Sigur Ros cover version. `And You Lied To Me' hits a huge reverb drenched, guitar solo climax that is driven home by pounding 70s style classic rock drums and thick melodic bass. Warped electronic squeals finish the track.

The following track, Devastation, charges in with a heavy/hard rock riff that gives way to completely spaced out vocals...
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Format: Audio CD
Let me state upfront that I was unfamiliar with The Besnard Lakes until I heard them on the excellent internet indie rock station WOXY. After that I dove into the band's music and listened to their musical output so far. 2005's "Volume 1" was ok, but I have been charmed much more by this album. If you are not familiar with the band's sound, it's a concontion of My Morning Jacket meets the Beach Boys meets Godspeed You! Back Emperor, yea, for real.

On "The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse" (8 tracks, 45 min.), the band, fronted by the husband and wife team of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek, expand very nicely on the early beginnings of the band. Check out the opener "Disaster", which goes back and forth between soft and harder-crunching music, intermixed with harmonizing vocals reminiscent of the Beach Boys. But in style it really reminds me more of My Morning Jacket era-Tennessee Fire and At Dawn, even though the music rocks, HARD at times. Other highlights on the album for me are the epic 7+ min. "And You Lied To Me", the Olga-fronted and hard charging "Devistation", and "Because Tonight", another 7+ min. tune. But in truth, there are no weak tracks on this album. The whole album clips along very nicely, and at 45 min. from beginning to end, you find yourself playing it again and again, can you have a better compliment to an album?

The Besnard Lakes came to Cincinnati in early December (opening for Peter, Bjorn & John) and I was absolutly mesmorised how the songs of "The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse" resonated in concert, even better than on the album, with a terrific "wall of sound". This is for me one of the surprise albums of the year. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H.G. Lovecraft on October 29, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Interesting stuff..... Did you ever here one song from a band & your thoughts are Wow! Their other stuff must be great as well? I bought this because of For Agent 13, which is very, very cool & I see how some can compare this Canadian band to Sigur Ros & the like, but the cd is not very consistant to that particular sound. Disaster is very good as well, but some tracks are all over the place. I also wish that there were a bit more of the Brain Wilson harmonies that I keep hearing about, but you can clearly hear that there was some influence. Thats not to say its bad in any way just kind of different & it gets a little up beat for my taste, but I am into a more somber sound so others may like that tempo change? I always find it most helpful when reviewers compare to other bands so my best description would be......some of the older 4AD stuff, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, & then some Earlimart, but most of all & I know this may sound crazy, but it also brings to mind Catherine Wheel, but again the sound changes too frequently so its difficult to perfectly describe the style. This the only reason its not a 5 star cd in my opinion, but well worth owning For track 2 alone.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Walkos on March 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I know that is a random statement, but it pretty much sums up the way I feel about The Besnard Lakes debut album. After reading the credentials of Jace Lasek one half of the husband and wife duo, I was expecting the kind of quirky indie rock that Canada has been churning out for years now. Instead I got a ethereal punch to the skull. This album shimmers like the brightest star while at the same time pulling you into a dark quicksand that loves you and your misery. This one is a hard one to put your finger on. It douses you in majesty while making you feel a little dirty. An album of infinite contradictions. So bite down on the horse bit and don't drown in this lake of secrets.
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