Artist: The Besnard Lakes
Album: The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
Comments: Before the Besnard Lakes came along, I was sure that I knew what prog-rock was.
Not that The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night has really changed my total perspective. I still think that, by and large, prog-rock is a genre sick with technical prowess and little regard for what actually sounds good to human ears (it's that old jazz argument: you have to listen to what they AREN'T playing to truly understand!). However, the Montreal four-piece's third album has shifted my beliefs some.
Roaring Night is progressive, to be sure. Tracks often meander into the six and seven minute range, locking in on tight grooves and peppering in a guitar solo here, a blast of welcoming fuzz there. Songs like “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent Pt 1: The Innocent” uses this Yes-meets-Arcade Fire pattern to maximum success, resulting in a sprawling song that never feels tired despite its simple arrangement and repetitive nature.
Indeed, this isn't your Uncle's prog-rock. Gone are the overwrought keyboard solos, the odd time signatures and the greek mythology / space exploration back stories that choked the great Prog dinosaurs of the 1970s. This is indie-prog, my friends, full of harmonies, restrained pop sensibilities and sound layering. So, yeah, if you were looking for the next Rush or King Crimson, one would be better off with the latest Mars Volta record.
Indeed, the Besnard Lakes are much less Yes and much more Yo La Tengo, making guitar heavy shoe-gaze rife with band-wide vocal harmonies, walls of fuzzy sound and a general sense of grandeur that suggests some great big sunrise awaits us all just over the horizon. Roaring Night isn't a game changer, but it makes for excellent late-night soundtrack fodder, and it offers a little more complexity than the average indie rock album. At the very least, it'll hold us over until the next Broken Social Scene album.
So, no it doesn't change the prog-rock game. It does, however, make the shit not only listenable but relateible as well. Besnard Lakes deserve credit for that, if nothing else.
Key Tracks: Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent Pt 1: The Innocent, Albatross
Buy, Steal, Skip: Worth listening to, but not worth paying for. Steal.