Flemish Eye/FatCat/Full Time Hobby
The Besrnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings
Having the idea to base your 72 minute concept album on the topic of Death feels like it may be something that is going to be a hard pass with the majority of music listeners right now. With the world going through a global pandemic and hope and optimism in staggering low supply you’d think something this heady wouldn’t be anything that anyone would want to connect with, but here we are, a scant few weeks into 2021, and The Besrnard Lakes disprove this theory. The Montreal based bands sixth studio album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings, is a long form symphonic rock suite that starts at an emotional ten and somehow manages to climb to more compelling heights.
It’s been five years since the sextet’s last album and since then, maybe not surprisingly in this current climate, they find themselves lamenting death. The four sides of the record are broken up into parts, “Near Death, “Death”, “After Death” and finally “Life” and is it ever the majestic journey. It’s a journey that, despite the subject matter, is more grounded than you would think. One that is made up of six friends performing in a room together, clearly in love with what they do and are able, at this point in the career, to harness their experience into crafting a simply, really lovely record. Acting as a tribute to lead singer Jace Lasek’s father, who passed away in 2019, as well as an homage and remembrance to such artists as the late Prince and Mark Hollis. The Besnard Lakes Are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings, shows that even though it can feel like the darkness is going to consume us at times, there is always going to be light on the other side.
This is active listening. To try and split this album up into digestible bite sized descriptions of each of its tracks would actually do it a bit of a disservice. The record is firmly based in the classic Psych Rock tradition. The vocals acting as part of the overall experience, layered into the instrumentation as if not to purposefully stand out on their own but to add another texture to the songs. It’s all brushed onto the musical canvas with big, bold strokes. Bass lines ebb and flow in and out of the proceedings. Synths gurgle and explode, the guitars take up minimal space until the moments they are unleashed together to create some timeless and time stopping harmonics. The drums, organic and thoughtfully played, tie everything together and give you a buoy to hold onto when everything around it starts to feel untenable. There are highlights. The brooding “Christmas Can Wait” with its “Hurdy Gurdy Man” vocal delay. “Feuds With Guns”, despite its name, is a bright and hopeful spot halfway through the proceedings with an absolute drop dead gorgeous vocal melody. Highlight “The Father Of Time Wakes Up” will slay you with shivers when the repeated refrain of “With Love There Is No Death” hits and the lead vocals take to the heavens asking “I wanna know where you are/And if it feels like it’s far/I wanna know where you are/Can I come?” It’s a showstopper.
The Besnard Lakes have always seemed to do whatever they wanted to but this album feels different. It’s defiantly inspired. The band is constantly flexing their muscles throughout, harmonically and melodically. They know exactly when to push and when to pull back and at times they soar to heights you haven’t heard before and then manage to soar even higher. It may seem like a heady concept. A 72 minute long form symphonic rock opus about life and death isn’t exactly escapist these days. The beauty and optimism of it all will leave you feeling hopeful, refreshed and ready to take on the world, as well as another listen.
Order The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings by The Besnard Lakes HERE