The Besnard Lakes, The Legion, London
Tuesday 27 April 2010
The Besnard Lakes, a quartet fronted by a husband-and-wife songwriting duo, hail from the same musically fertile land of Montreal in Canada as Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The Dears, and Stars. Like their peers, they boast an experimental and artful slant to their rock music. This is the last show in a short tour to promote their latest, third album, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night, an intoxicating shoegazey set of tracks which immerse the listener in a heavy-reverb wall of sound reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, with the melodious harmonies of The Beach Boys.
The band are in thrall to their guitar-playing frontman, Jace Lasek, whose Bon Iver-esque falsetto floats over the heavy instrumentation. To the detriment of their beautiful harmonies, less audible are the dulcet purrs of his bassist wife, Olga Goreas, especially unfortunate in the case of the album's stand-out track, "Albatross", which she leads, but which is tonight drowned out by woozy guitar distortion.
Extended atmospheric intros building up to a noisy release of distorted guitars are their forte. Tonight, in "Chicago Train", they are at their most captivating. Setting the samples on his laptop (the new album employs the use of Mellotron, Omnichord, and a 12-string guitar), Lasek sings his delicate falsetto against Goreas's well-rendered mellow flute motif – a dreamy and intricate beginning, at once beautiful and eerie, that carries its ethereal quality through into its pulsating drum beat and guitar release. A similar height is reached in "For Agent 13", the vocal harmonies delicate against piano backing, and the winsome vocal melody of "Disaster", but engaging moments like this are not as frequent as they could be. "And This is What We Call Progress" shows the reach of their repertoire, each band member rocking out, uninhibited, to a dominant bassline driving against unsettling glissando of guitar. Still, the track does not really go anywhere. That's fine, but by the time we reach the encore it starts to sound quite samey.
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