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.

besnard lakes at Islington Town Hall
At Isling­ton Town Hall, 2017

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 

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