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The Besnard Lakes - ...are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings (Album Review)

Friday, 05 February 2021 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Joseph Yarmush

After a year dominated by a killer virus it’s probably justified to welcome an album based around death with a sense of scorn and discontent. But to do so in the face of the Besnard Lakes’ sixth studio effort ‘The Besnard Lakes are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ would be a colossal mistake.

Comprising four sides of vinyl named ‘Near Death’, ‘Death’, ‘After Death’ and ‘Life’, the record is a near faultless 72 minute exercise in shoegaze-inspired indie-rock from the Canadian group led by husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas.

From the opening atmospherics of Blackstrap, it’s evident that this is a band going down its preferred route, something briefly interrupted when 2016’s ‘A Coliseum Complex Museum’ reeled in the track lengths to produce something more palatable in easily digestible chunks.

The track morphs this way and that, twinkling keys and fully-charged electric guitar weaving in and out to create a vision of a futuristic western. Intermittent telephone ringing adds a further layer of intrigue, with the resistance to answering that call evident as though it’s delaying the arrival of bad news.

Dreamy Pink Floyd moments come and go like a passing dream, and the shared vocals of the stunning Raindrops pay tribute in their own unique way to Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis. Lasek’s recognisable falsetto is magnificent alongside Goreas’ own gorgeous contribution. An eight minute opus, Christmas Can Wait, then melds Floyd with something approaching the Flaming Lips as we are taken on an intergalactic trip through space and time before the song warps again with a brilliant descending guitar riff.

Another tribute, this time to Prince, arrives during The Father of Time Wakes Up, where throbbing bass carves a niche alongside clanging guitar, oscillating between two notes before a fantastic showcase of six string splendour takes over. “With love there is no death,” we are told. 

A bombastic—for the Besnards, at least—beat mixes things up a little on New Revolution and delicious organ chords drive single Feuds With Guns, but there is little doubt that epic soundscapes are the dominant force at work. The title track closes the collection in such fashion, although this time you would be wise to turn off before the seventh minute as the remaining 11 or so amount to nothing more than droning noise. 

But this elongated exit highlights how the album came about, really. Moving between labels—from Jagjaguwar to Full Time Hobby—the album was created in a liminal space bearing no expectations. As a result ‘The Besnard Lakes are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ tells you everything you need to know about a band we should hold close to our hearts.

The Besnard Lakes Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 01 2021 - BRIGHTON Prince Albert
Sat October 02 2021 - LIVERPOOL Jacaranda Phase One
Sun October 03 2021 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Tue October 05 2021 - GLASGOW Hug and Pint
Wed October 06 2021 - MANCHESTER YES (The Basement)
Thu October 07 2021 - LONDON Oslo
Fri October 08 2021 - GUILDFORD Boileroom
Sat October 09 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Castle and Falcon

Compare & Buy The Besnard Lakes Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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