Review Summary: Getting in, getting the job done in a balanced way, and getting out of there before it becomes tedious.
It’s an authentic and likable build-to-rise exercise in shoegaze. That was what 2007’s The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse
really boiled down to. Not so much awe-provoking as it was engrossing and gravitating as a listen, the album marked primary songwriters Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas' augmentation to a duo of renown and respect. Their Funeral
came later than what they would have probably liked, yes, but the married pair had finally found a sweet spot for the then-six-member The Besnard Lakes. Refusing to retread into familiar ground, the now four-piece still keep the dark atmospheric soundscapes of their past and those lovely surf-rock melodies intact, but they have transitioned their ambitions into a more compact, more free flowing, and more absorbing album, making The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night
not so much an improvement over […]the Dark Horse
, but a reformatting of the elements that made that album so successful in the first place.
But calling […]the Roaring Night
a pretentious re-creation of their past with a different coat of paint isn’t entirely fair either. Just as the painted crimson, orange of this release’s album art contrasts the fiery dark horse of the former, there’s certainly enough here to easily distinguish the two albums. Take for instance the opening two-part track, “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent’: part one begins with a short segment of effects and radio-distorted vocal passages before Jace Lasek takes over on part two with his sky-high falsetto, later leading into a Brian Wilson-esque melody over a reserved, though steady, transitioning from ambiance to distorted guitars. Much of the one-way direction of [...]the Dark Horse
is replaced here with a more cohesive, flowing nature that puts more focus on smooth pathways and transitions for the majority of album's course. “Land Of The Living” is very much the same way: tinkering with the distorted, short-wave radio samples in part one – an effect that The Besnard Lakes played with on their last outing as well – we are then met with the sleepless voice of Olga Goreas in part two of the piece: ‘Take a long walk down the countryside / take a long walk to clear my mind
’. While dividing tracks in two is probably the most obvious way to give an album a sense of intertwinment, this cohesive quality flows through the majority of […]the Roaring Night
, effectively replacing the often-separated, albeit grandiose feel of […]the Dark Horse
The Canadian quartet also seems more ready and able to experiment with the more conventional indie rock-styled tracks on [...]the Dark Horse
- think "On Bedford and Grand" or "Celdric's War" from their last album. “Albatross” mixes surly guitar riffs with the sweet delivery of Olga on this song – Jase switching roles in offering backing harmonies this time out, giving an example of the cooperative changing of singing duties between the two on this outing. A more reserved, mournful track, “Light Up The Night” draws eyes back to the album art and has front man Jase warning, ‘You better move on they’d say / you’d never be safe this way,
’ and finally, raising voice and exclamation for the repeated chorus of, ‘Lighting up the night / lighting up the night
.' The sentiment is abstract, but effective, even more impacting when the entrance of drumming and a shoegaze guitar solo enter the track for the ending cycle of choruses. And yet, for every raise in volume of tone or distortion of these aforementioned tracks is a reprieve by way of the muted steam-roller “Chicago Train” – another track that brings Jases’ falsetto to the forefront of attention – and the jingle pop of Ogla-fronted “The Lonely Moan”, closing the album off with anything but a bang; a snoozer, certainly, but in context of the lolling, trance-like listen that is […]the Roaring Night
, it’s an appropriate ending.
“And This Is The Sound Of Progress”, while being track eight of […]the Roaring Night
, is almost the perfect summary line for describing the Canadian four-piece’s new album. It’s not so much a progression for the band as a repositioning of sonic elements, though, largely making the sound that equated to be no more than, while effective, cut-and-paste, build-to-release dynamics found on last effort […]the Dark Horse
into something more tangible, conventional, and cohesive. The track in question is actually another example of these indie rock/shoegaze friendly elements that fill much of […]the Roaring Night
; asserting its purpose early on with grooving high guitar notes and the sunny delivery of Jase Lasek, the track never wear's out its welcome with an over-extension of track time or an over-abundance of ambiant shoegaze. In very much the same way, […]the Roaring Night
succeeds in its goals as an album: getting in, getting the job done in a balanced way, and getting out of there before it becomes tedious.