Deriving their name from Besnard Lake in North Central Saskatchewan, the acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes — currently, husband and wife duo Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys) and Olga Goreas (vocals, bass), along with Kevin Laing (drums), Richard White (guitar), Sheenah Ko (keys) and Robbie MacArthur (guitar) — formed back in 2003. And since their formation, the Montreal-based sextet have five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.
After the release of their fifth album, 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, The Besnard Lakes and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And as a result, the members of the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue the band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the acclaimed Canadian act settled in to write and record what may arguably be the most uncompromising effort of their catalog, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.
Unlike their previously released material, the members of the Montreal-based went with a much more patient creative approach, taking all the time they needed to conceive, write, record and mix the album’s material. Some of the album’s songs are old, tracing their origins to resurrected demos left on the shelf years before. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek and Goreas’ Riguard Ranch, with the band relishing a rougher, grittier sound.
Thematically, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings finds the band contemplating the darkness of dying, the light on the other side, and coming back from the brink of annihilation. And while touching upon the band’s own story, the album also is a remembrance of dear loved ones, who are no longer with us — particularly Lasek’s father, who died last year. From what Lasek observed of his father’s death, being on one’s deathbed may be the most intense psychedelic trip of anyone’s life” at one point Lasek’s father surfaced from a morphine-induced dream, talking about how he saw a “window” on his blanket, with “a carpenter inside of it, making objects.” And as a result, the album’s material is imbued with a surreal and ethereal quality.
Earlier this year, I wrote about The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings‘ first single “Raindrops,” a slow-burning shoegazer with a painterly attention to gradation and texture, centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, twinkling and arpeggiated keys, thunderous drumming, ethereal boy-girl harmonies and a euphoric hook. Interestingly, the album’s second single is the slow-burning, dream pop-like “Feuds With Guns.” Centered around an atmospheric and spacious arrangement featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys, plaintive vocals and a soaring hook, “Feuds With Guns” sonically speaking, is one part Prince, one part Beach House.
“‘Feuds With Guns’ is one of the first songs written from our upcoming LP. This one is a good slow-dancer!” The members of The Besnard Lakes explain to Under The Radar ” Written almost entirely in the Cabanon at The Rigaud Ranch, this one started out as an organ and drum idea that morphed into a little OMD-style pop song.”
Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released animated video for “Feuds With Guns” is a lysergic fever dream that features divers taking a dive, flying airplanes, cars and vans in front of a bright yellow sun. “I rotoscoped a couple of the big dives from a video of an extreme high-diving contest that took place in the 80s. About a week after I had animated the first guy’s big jump, I returned to the video to check out some other usable clips,” Dr. Cool explains in press notes. “I realized I had never watched the full clip of the first jump — I had just stopped once he hit the water. I found out that after he lands in the water he floats back up unconscious and then gets taken away on a stretcher. So now what was I supposed to do? People in the comments were asking what had happened but no one knew the answer. After a bunch of snooping around the internet I found the guy’s Facebook and he’s TOTALLY alive. His name is Pat and he lives in Florida. I messaged him but he hasn’t answered.”