The Besnard Lakes seem to have taken everyone by surprise; their music blends drone-y shoegaze and prog-rock with the playfulness of lightly orchestrated indie-pop. These elements make Are The Dark Horse one of the best comprehensive albums of 2007. Songs like “Because Tonight” are instantly classic in nature—The Besnard Lakes’ ability to dictate between sophisticated and precise string arrangements, and drone-heavy prog-rock give them an edge in a somewhat polluted independent music scene.
The combination of orchestration with structured proggy drones is nothing new, but The Besnard Lakes give it a refreshing twist in the inclusion of subtle pop elements. The vocal patterns further add to the uniqueness of songs like “Disaster” and “Devestation”, stacking vocals to the point where virtually all members are not only playing their instruments, but also singing in both unison and harmony. Again common with prog-rock, the songs build from softer, slightly sparser sounds, which crescendo into epic peaks before either softening at the end or going out with a bang.
Others remain fairly subdued in their overall nature, such as “Rides The Rails”, in which the listener is drawn more to The Beach Boys-y harmonic vocal pattern. But such songs are not without their signature progressive sensibilities. In fact, these songs make up much of Are The Dark Horse, from A-Side opener “Disaster” to concluding B-Side track “Cedric’s War”. It goes to show that The Besnard Lakes have a wondrous song-crafting ability—in Are The Dark Horse, The Besnard Lakes find a unique musical balance that make them one of the more forward-looking groups today.
This review was originally published January 14, 2008 on the old version of FensePost.
Jagjaguwar [12″ LP, 2007]
2. For Agent 13
3. And You Lied To Me
5. Because Tonight
6. Rides The Rails
7. On Bedford And Grand
8. Cedric’s War