Album Review: The Besnard Lakes–’Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO’

The Besnard Lakes–Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO (Jagjaguwar)

On their first three albums, The Besnard Lakes displayed a tendency to diversify their material. Sophomore effort The Besnard Lakes Are the Darkhorse showed off a weepy falsetto from Jace Lasek, whose vocals were otherwise reserved to a buried mumble on the band’s debut,Volume 1, and The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night granted listeners permission to listen to Lasek’s co-songwriter and wife Olga Goreas’s own vocals – silky and ethereal in their languid wandering – mixed heavily into the foreground for the first time (it also added 12-string guitar, flute, omnichord, and mellotron sounds into the mix).

With Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, The Besnard Lakes make a welcome return to their brand of jangly shoegaze-heavy indie rock, but the effort is a little underwhelming when set beside a back catalogue of albums exhibiting such radically redefining elements.

But it’s still a beautiful record possessing some pretty magical powers.

UFO sends you off to a euphoria-enabling dreamscape that could be kind of nerve-racking at times, but only because it maps out its oasis with a full sound that has the breathtaking tendency to build itself up to overwhelming bigness before collapsing into some comforting spaces cushioned with soothing vocals and ring-out guitar chords.

Album opener “46 Satires” typifies that overall formula. Beginning with a synth note that coasts for 40-seconds, it seems to insinuate a lonely, expansive environment that’s perfect for the connection-longing verses sung by Goreas that soon follow. The remaining bulk of the track is brushed over with at first subtle guitar squeal and synth accents that sound like that of an alien spacecraft and then become more prominent, insinuating an extraterrestrial touchdown of sorts.

UFO obsesses over lyrical themes of discovery and correspondence (extraterrestrial, interpersonal or otherwise), so it’s not surprising that the second half of the record lifts off with the conversational “At Midnight.” Here, Lasek and Goreas toss vocal duties back-and-forth as they exchange perspectives over conspiracy: “All of my files she stole / All to erase a part of me,” Lasek mopes, to which Goreas responds, “Say what you have to say … Too much weird here.”

The familiarity of the relationship-burned situation in “At Midnight” contextualizes the otherwise incongruent pop-leaning “People of the Sticks.”

Another slowburning carver of surreal dreamscapes, if UFO does little more than establishRoaring Night as the album where The Besnard Lakes found their sound, it’s a comforting sign of what’s to come.

3.5/5

(originally published by The Ontarion on April 4, 2013)

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