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With a band like The Besnard Lakes, you don’t expect sweeping stylistic evolution from record to record. You get what you get, and that is studio-built, psychedelia-soaked mini symphonies of the finest order.
So it still strikes me as odd that I keep finding something off about the band’s last album, 2013’s Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO. By all accounts, it was a well-received album critically, but I found the bedrock of their sound–good ol’ rock n’ roll–sorely missing. Heavy on mood and atmospherics, the album lacked the wallop and attack of their previous work, and their latest release, A Coliseum Complex Museum.
There’s an earthly weightiness to their new sweeping melodic musical movements, starting right off the top with “The Bray Road Beast”, a monolithic opener in the tradition of “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent” Pts. 1 and 2 from 2010’s The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night: a single song that takes you on an album’s worth of emotional rollercoaster riding. From there on, the seven remaining songs find their way through the band’s trademark magical, fantasy world of landscapes, conjured up by husband and wife duo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas.
Whereas their last record floated in the ether, A Coliseum Complex Museum is firmly grounded in more traditional prog-rock elements. Little things, like the wacked out guitars at the end of “Tungsten 4: The Refugee”, or the radio-broadcast blast at the start of “Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound”, bring a humanity back to The Besnard lakes sound. Not surprising both Lasek and Goreas say that they found a deeply spiritual connection to the land when visiting their namesake Saskatchewan lake while working on the album.
Colossal, sometimes impenetrable, but always of the most highly artistic quality, A Coliseum Complex Museum is a welcome return from the country’s preeminent psychedelic, sonic adventurers.
The Besnard Lakes, A Coliseum Complex Museum
Outside, January 22, 2016