The Besnard Lakes
A Coliseum Complex Museum, 180G Black Vinyl LP
e Besnard Lakes are named for a real lake, but they’ve always been more closely associated with a studio. During the great Canadian indie rock boom of the mid-'00s, singer/guitarist Jace Lasek’s Breakglass Studios hosted bands like Wolf Parade, the Unicorns, Stars, and Land of Talk, capturing the imagination of music writers eager to pinpoint a connective thread behind Montreal’s music scene. Few of the acts that passed through Breakglass’s doors, however, put the studio to use quite like Besnard Lakes, who committed themselves to the "studio as an instrument" mentality of Lasek’s idol Brian Wilson on each of their sweeping, meticulously crafted albums. They’re the type of records that could have only been made by a band with a producer in its ranks.
The studio’s influence remains as strong as ever on the Besnards’ fifth album, A Coliseum Complex Museum, but this time the band’s namesake lake also makes its presence felt. For the first time, Lasek and bassist/co-lead Olga Goreas began demoing songs at the remote lake in Saskatchewan, where the couple had often discussed music but as a rule had previously resisted recording it. "It’s a great place for contemplation," Lasek explained in an interview last year. "There’s nobody up there, it’s really hard to get to and you could spend a whole day not seeing anybody, just standing on a beach surrounded by trees and water." Coliseum’s lyrics draw from those natural surroundings, fixating on the skies, the elements, and animals, both real and imagined (the album opens with "The Bray Road Beast" and "Golden Lion," each about a fantastical creature).
So A Coliseum Complex Museum is the band’s nature album, but mostly it’s another Besnard Lakes album, and more or less a mirror of 2013’s Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, right down to its refrigerator magnet poetry title, glimmering guitars, and Floydian ambitions. "The Bray Road Beast" wastes no time channeling Dark Side of the Moon, with a star-gazing guitar line traced from "Eclipse," while "Pressure of Our Plans" and "Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound" each culminate in a thicket of swirling psychedelia. These songs run a bit shorter than those on Until in Excess, but they’re every bit as dense. -Pitchfork