It has been a thrill in these dark times to hear the announcement of new music from The Besnard Lakes. The Montreal band’s impending album, to be unveiled 29 January 2021, is titled – in their typical rather inflated prog-influenced style – The Besnard Lakes Are the last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings.
I’ve been obsessed with this psychedelic indie band ever since first hearing them about seven years ago at Fopp record shop in Covent Garden. I was flipping through the vinyl racks when, over the shop’s amazing speaker system, came a celestial sound. The assistant, an enthusiastic Besnards fan, recognised I may be a potential convert and told me it was The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night. He played the whole album and I was smitten.
Listening to The Besnards is to be lured into their dream world full of glorious, deep and rich melodies with soaring guitars and grandiose gestures, losing you in a fog of swirling psychedelia. So gorgeous is some of their music it has been known to make me cry (most notably during Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt 2 and Necronomicon).
Ahead of the The Besnard Lakes Are the last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings (a dinked edition is available, only 500 copies in all), The Besnard Lakes have shared the first track called Raindrops. In keeping with their previous output, the track exhorts you to be still and focus on the music, get lost in the moment. Stop clacking that keyboard and yabbering into your phone. And just let Raindrops drench you in its beauty.
The opening section has a hypnotic, metronomic quality; something of The Beatles Blue Jay Way before Jace Lasek’s distinctive falsetto breaks through and a swirl of psychedelia and rippling guitars snake into the composition. A wall of sound pools and gathers into an ecstatic chorus.
The new album is influenced by the death of Lasek’s father and the work is split into a “sprawling seventy-two-minute continuous suite of songs,” with the 2‑LP sides entitled near death, death, after death and life. Raindrops may be about death – and the lyrics pay tribute to Mark Hollis – but the song radiates a soothing and redemptive quality.
This first song since 2016’s A Coliseum Complex Museum delivers a message that The Besnard Lakes are back and on top form, confident, expressive and embodying the essence of their creativity.
So now 2021 will bring us this new album to look forward to – and perhaps we may even dare to dream of a tour.
Feature photo: Green Man Festival