I’ve only recently began listening to The Besnard Lakes, and I can say without a doubt that they create some of the most beautifully dense, imaginative music that’s being written today. Much like their album titles, such as The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, and now Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, their music can be long, labyrinthine, and open to interpretation.
As with the common long album titles, The Besnard Lakes’ album covers are also very telling of their music. Rich and dark oil paintings – often of gloomy landscapes – depict what appears to be another time and place. History trapped in dark, thick colors. Maybe not a literal history, but one that encompasses the grandiose music that is part of The Besnard Lakes’ experience. Jace Lasek and his wife Olga Goreas create worlds of expansive sound, soaring harmonies, and melancholy melodies that bring to mind what Brian Wilson might have written and recorded had he been born 20 years later. There’s been a lot of talk that The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night is the definitive Besnard Lakes’ album, and had I cut my teeth on that album, I might be obliged to agree with that statement. But as it stands, I didn’t.
My first foray into the world of The Besnard Lakes’ music was Lasek’s side band The Soft Province. That album primed me for The Besnard Lakes. Where The Soft Province was in terms of Besnard Lakes grandiosity a ‘small’ record, it still encapsulated all the wonderful and magical things that Lasek creates with his main gig. The Roaring Night was the next record I fell into, and I was completely hooked. But not more than a month later, Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO was released and cemented my love and adoration for the Canadian rockers – and they do rock. Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO is an outright masterpiece. Put it on, turn off the lights, and listen. You will see.
This album is decidedly more tempered than previous records; let’s get that out in the open right now. There’s nothing quite as raucous and rocking as “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocence Part 1: The Ocean” or “Chicago Train” on this new record. But what it may lack in bombast, it gains ten fold in dreamy textures, and miles and miles of harmony. I brought up Brian Wilson before and not out of laziness. The joy he exuded in albums like Pet Sounds and Smile is running over through the eight songs on Besnard Lakes’ masterpiece. “And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold” floats along on an unbreakable melody, as if hidden behind the very painted clouds on the album’s artwork.
“People of the Sticks” is pop music of the highest order; album opener “46 Satires” sounds like Cocteau Twins, with Goreas sounding like a reserved Elizabeth Fraser. “The Specter” opens with electric piano and has a very somber tone to it, like a funeral tome. A 21st century “Surfs Up”. There isn’t a spot on this album that needs changing or removing. Each is a piece that helps to build something beautiful. “Colour Yr Lights In” once again perfects pop music and brings it to a new level. This happens a lot on this record. “Alamogordo” ends this album on yet another masterful note. Epic and timeless.
You won’t find a better way to spend fifty minutes this year than on Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO.
J. Hubner is a music lover and blogger who frequently contributes album reviews to Indie Rock Cafe and via his blog.