The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings by The Besnard LakesRelease date: January 29, 2021
Label: Full Time Hobby
Montreal psych architects, The Besnard Lakes, have dropped their first record in 5 years, and it’s a doozy. It is 9 songs and 72 minutes long, and has been released on their new label Full Time Hobby. Some may compare them to Low or Spiritualized, but you could cut and paste in any number of psych bands with dreamy elements, and you’d be on point. I hear glimmers of Beach House and even Grizzly Bear in the mix, which may be unintentional, but we all hear different things. And that is the great thing about any album, really, as it’s a unique experience for each of us.
The opening song ‘Blackstrap’ starts off fairly simple but quickly morphs into a sonic maelstrom, complete with a British phone ringing ceaselessly. The lovely ‘Raindrops’ references the death of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk. Other themes explored are the darkness of dying and the light that eventually emerges on the other side. But no matter the lyrical themes, this sextet produce a grand, technicoloured sound that is unlike anything you’ve heard in recent times. ‘Christmas Can Wait’ resonates with me, as there was a death in my family and nobody wanted to celebrate the holiday. The entire year felt like a death knell, to be honest, so this is a requiem of sorts. This song borders on prog rock, pigeonholing all the hallmarks of that genre, including big, in your face keyboard washes and soaring vocals.
‘Our Heads, Our Hearts on Fire Again’ is the standout track. It hit me the first time, and many repeat listens thereafter. Easily the best song here, perhaps by virtue of its accessible entry point. Pretty vocals and a kickass melody and one that will linger in your noggin long after the song fades away. ‘Feuds With Guns’ is surprisingly upbeat, considering that it details a trap being set for a man. I like its cadence, and I wonder if this is earmarked for a single. It should be! ‘The Dark Side of Paradise’ seems to describe someone who has passed: ‘There will never be another you’, or it could be about a failed relationship. It is open to interpretation for me. Either way, it’s not celebrating a happy moment.
‘New Revolution’ is another cool tune with a familiar backbeat. The vocals are muffled at the start, until the light shines through with clarity. Terrific! ‘The Father of Time Wakes Up’ has a creepy, lullabye feel to it, but the vocals are just gorgeous. And I love it when the song really takes off, shaking off the cobwebs and letting the light in. More please! The album’s coda is ‘Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’, and it’s 17 minutes long! Lovely and essential, but in this short attention span world, it demands more from listeners. It is worth the listen, as it’s all beautiful. It moves between upbeat and sunny and more dark and sequestered at the 7 minute mark, and it ultimately morphs into a spacey post rock. I can only imagine the grandeur of this in a live setting.
This band is truly on fire on this record, and you will not regret cracking this one open and cranking the volume. Well worth the listen!