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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