oAs 2020 mercifully came to a close, I wound up writing a bit about the acclaimed acclaimed, multi-Polaris Music Prize-nominated Montreal-based indie rock act The Besnard Lakes. The Canadian sextet — 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 band has released five albums of atmospheric and textured shoegaze that some critics have described as magisterial and cinematic.
After the release of 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum, the members of the acclaimed Montreal-based act and their longtime label home Jagjaguwar mutually decided that it was time to end their relationship and go their separate ways. And although the move was amicable between both parties, the band began to question whether or not it made sense to even continue as a band. But fueled by their love for each other and for playing music together, the members of The Besnard Lakes settled in to write and record what may arguably be considered the most uncompromising effort of their catalog to date, 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. Interestingly, some of the album’s songs are old and can trace their origins back to resurrected demos that they had been left on the shelf years prior. Other songs were woodshedded in the cabin behind Lasek’s 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.” All of this manages to imbue the album’s material with an almost fever dream-like quality.
So far I’ve written about two of The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings’ singles:
“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.
“Feuds With Guns,” a dream pop-like synthesis of Prince and Beach House featuring thunderous drumming, anthemic power chord-based riffs, twinkling keys and a soaring hook.
The Besnard Lakes begin 2021 with their forthcoming album’s third and latest single “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again.” Clocking in 6:39, the expansive song is centered around two alternating sections: a slow-burning and atmospheric section featuring ethereal female lead vocals, glistening and atmospheric synths that slowly build up in intensity with the addition of chugging power chords, thumping tribal-like drums and layered choral-like vocals. The end result is a song that’s a prog rock meets Beach Boys-like take on shoegaze that feels oceanic.
“The track started as an Oggy Film Song,” the band shares in press notes. “A skeletal version of the song had been in the Besnard vault for several years after we initially rejected it for a film soundtrack. It went through a couple drafts before we tore it apart, rejiggered some parts and resurrected it to its new form. The song is an ode to logic and intuition and being able to learn from the past.”
Directed by Dr. Cool, the recently released video for “Our Heads, Our Hearts On Fire Again” is an animated and lysergic fever dream that features divers projected onto city buildings, electrical outlets turn into signing houses moving across the horizon and a horse runs across the changing skyline. It’s a mind-bending and gorgeous visual.
The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is slated for a January 29, 2021 release through Fat Cat Records here in the States and through Flemish Eye in their native Canada.
The Besnard Lakes have announced 3 livestream shows in support of the forthcoming album. Hosted by Noonchorus, the band’s live streams will be February 5, 2021; March 6, 2021; and April 3, 2021. The streams will go live at 7:00pm EST for each show and tickets are available here: https://noonchorus.com/the-besnard-lakes/