BY KELLY DEARMORE
With the release of their fourth album, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO, Montreal’s Besnard Lakes solidify their stance as prime purveyors of modern mood music. The fictional, dweeby, Gabe Lewis from television’s The Office once described his Casio-driven ditties not as songs, but as “soundscapes.” It’s likely that he had been spinning this Canadian group’s previous albums for inspiration, as Jace Lasek and crew certainly specialize in creating such lush atmospherics. So as to not sell any of the new songs short, tunes such as the rhythmically driving “People of the Sticks,” with its harmonious vocals and dreamlike vibes, create mental escapes, not mere background-ready soundscapes.
It’s not by accident so much space on each of the album’s songs is filled with impeccable ambience. Much in the way a blue-chip High School basketball recruit is often described as a gym-rat, Lasek is most certainly a studio-rat, which makes sense, given that he owns Breakglass Studios. This is where the group has long recorded, and he skillfully engineers the swelling triumphs and the gently swaying, spaced-out slow-jams that mesh seamlessly throughout the record.
Unlike many so-called shoegaze acts, Besnard Lakes really understand quick and catchy, even if they’re somewhat tricky in their sparing use of hooking the listener sooner than later. However, similar to many of those same bands, even when the vocals and lyrics are at their boldest, such is designed as an added instrument, not as something to get in-front of the overall composition. Until in Excess, just as the group’s fantastic last album, 2010’s The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, managed to do, entice the listener to stretch their attention span beyond standard pop-parameters. In “46 Satires,” the betrothed vocalists lead the listener along a gauzy, melodic breeze for a couple of minutes before dramatically introducing soaring guitars that would feel at home on a Mogwai album, providing a climactic and rewarding pay-off.
Like any groove-tastic mood-ring, there are various colors for an array of moods. The sonic version of a mellowing aura is represented here in the feathery “And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold.” The song’s ethereal flow makes a finely-crafted case for Heaven being in the journey, and not the destination. In fact, the entire album is quite the trip.
DOWNLOAD: “People of the Sticks,” “And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold”