Plumbiferous Media

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night - The Besnard Lakes

Mar 21st 2010
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The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night - The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night
Score: 64

Québé­cois band The Besnard Lakes released their third album on the 9th. The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night, aside from fol­low­ing the pat­tern of increas­ing­ly long and irri­tat­ing album names, is a pret­ty good album; what it lacks in cer­tain areas, includ­ing pri­mar­i­ly vocals, it more than makes up for in oth­ers. In short, The Besnard Lakes’s strat­e­gy of releas­ing albums approx­i­mate­ly every three years seems to have worked out pret­ty well for the band.

As inter­est­ing an album as The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night is, the vocals nev­er quite seem to work as well as they should. The album’s slight­ly con­fused grasp of musi­cal style is in full force in the vocals, which spend much of the album sound­ing as gener­ic as rock vocals can with­out falling square­ly into pop. Rep­e­ti­tion in vocal pat­terns as well as lyrics does­n’t help. At the same time, how­ev­er, the vocals occa­sion­al­ly fit into the more sub­dued, care­ful form befit­ting The Besnard Lakes’ post-rock influ­ence - “Land of Liv­ing Skies, Part 2” dis­plays this quite well. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most of the album’s vocals are noth­ing more than lackluster.

Lyri­cal­ly, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night leaves a cer­tain amount to be desired. It’s impor­tant to note that lyrics seem to be a much low­er pri­or­i­ty than sound for the group, but at the same time, as most of their tracks aren’t instru­men­tal (at least not entire­ly), the mid­dling lyri­cal qual­i­ty does­n’t help the album. The lyrics are more gener­ic than they are bad­ly writ­ten - they tend towards repet­i­tive and banal more than any­thing else. Occa­sion­al­ly, inter­est­ing images stick out, but only for a moment before the lyrics return to their usu­al state.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night is a decep­tive­ly good album. The vocals are fair­ly mediocre, and the lyrics are less than ide­al, and the entire album seems lost some­where between rock and post-rock. But get past the minute and a half of intro­duc­tion, and you are imme­di­ate­ly con­front­ed by a sev­en plus minute beau­ty of a track. It nev­er devolves into sim­ple rep­e­ti­tion, it shrinks and swells in just the right places, and every­thing mesh­es togeth­er quite well. The rest of the album pro­ceeds from there. The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night is also a very diverse album, albeit maybe a bit too diverse, as The Besnard Lakes seems to run out of mate­r­i­al by “Light Up the Night,” a con­sid­er­ably weak­er sev­en-minute epic.

As an unre­lat­ed prob­lem, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night is best lis­tened to with a mid­dling lev­el of atten­tion. Pay too much atten­tion and the vocal prob­lems, in addi­tion to the ques­tion­able record­ing qual­i­ty will begin to drill holes into the album. On the oth­er side, if you allow your atten­tion to waver for even a sec­ond, you’ll won­der why you don’t remem­ber the last three tracks in the slight­est. Hav­ing to pay just the right amount of atten­tion to ful­ly enjoy the album does not real­ly help it win over the listener.

For all that’s wrong with The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night, at the end there’s more good than bad. The lyrics and vocals may not be strong points, but the album is cer­tain­ly musi­cal­ly inter­est­ing, and that’s what car­ries it through the bet­ter part of an hour. The album’s diver­si­ty helps to retain some of the inter­est inevitably lost by the unfor­tu­nate­ly som­no­lent qual­i­ty of the music, while at the same time offer­ing a decent num­ber of approach­es to The Besnard Lakes’ brand of music. All in all, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roar­ing Night is gen­er­al­ly worth­while, even if it does at times require equal parts selec­tive for­give­ness and listening.

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