The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night opens with an electronic noise and keyboard overture (“Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent, Pt. 1) which leads right into “Part 2” with Jace Lasek’s falsetto like Bon Iver. When the percussion hits, it could be that this is all leading into a dance track. But here the percussion groove doesn’t break up the overture. Neither do the My Morning Jacket-like guitar licks that jump up in the blessed out jams and atmospheric rock. Rather, the percussion and guitar punctuate the curtain of sound, piercing it but never fully pulling back the overture’s blue light, smoke, and mystery that are setting the stage. In fact, the overture sound will truly run throughout this AltFolk/College/Art Rock album.
“Chicago Train” continues the overture theme with waves of falsetto sound like fog rolling off the mountains. Then suddenly the train comes around the bend with its driving beat and charged guitars. The final third of the song has the falsetto choir return to help the mountain come back into view before the whole scene fades out.
“Albatross” sees Olga Goreas take the lead vocal backed by a Beach Boys-like chorus. There’s again a driving beat but the overture is present in the background. An electrically-charged wall of sound begins “Glass Printer” with the overture them in the main vocal while percussion is smashing into all corners. That wall of sound seems to be built on the dominant guitar entrance from “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent, Pt. 2.”
“Land of the Living Skies, Pt. 1: The Land” returns to the original overture ambient noise, a mid-album break to reset the stage before “Pt. 2: The Living Skies” comes in with its Western flavor to the guitar, painting a haunting vista with the ambient noise still present like a vibraphone spinning in and out of consciousness. The Besnard Lakes create atmosphere, other worlds, and dreamscapes in a way similar to the Church (especially like Priest=Aura).
“And This is What We Call Progress” has a Tex Mex border guitar and the rhythm of a train speeding across an open flatland at night time. Yet, the overture’s theme is still present in the main vocal.
While most of the time the overture is hinted at, “Light Up the Night” reverses the roles. The overture’s themes are the main thing in the ambient intro, the piano, and vocal. The guitar and cymbals don’t break it up at first; they’re just flashes of a rock song—until the 4:45 mark when the drums take up a regular rock rhythm, the guitar comes on with a fuller roar, but it all builds into the overture’s triumphant sound.
Finally, “The Lonely Moon” is a Angelo Badalamenti/Twin Peaks, 50’s creepy, atmospheric pop that goes gently into the night on the overture’s themes.
So the overture sets the scene and runs it all the way through the album. The Besnard Lakes have crafted an exquisite work to let play from start to finish as you imagine the vista and story they create.