The Besnard Lakes

Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO

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Begun in 2011 at the Montreal dream pop act's own Breakglass Studios, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO is the Besnard Lakes' fourth full-length and keeps to their habit of releasing a dense, lovingly crafted album awash with crunching guitars and hazy strings every three to four years. Led and formed by the husband/wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, it's clear that Breakglass is the key instrument when defining the Besnards' sound. While 2007's The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse was a step up both sonically and commercially from their Smashing Pumpkins-influenced low-key 2004 debut, Vol. 1, each subsequent release has in turn seen the band steadily broaden its palette. Released in 2010, the aptly titled The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night saw them accentuate both their progressive and soft rock sensibilities, and these are most certainly retained for Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. The band has classified writing and recording as being much the same process for quite some time, an approach that sets its indie rock apart from the many "verse/chorus/verse" worshiping acts that pervade the field. Although the dramatic "People of the Sticks" is the closest thing to a traditionally structured track on this release, even at the point when the verse edges into a chorus, it feels like you're listening to a subtle and natural mood change. While it could easily have sat on the revered Roaring Night, it's the material here such as "And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold" and "Catalina" that effectively hints at a new chapter for the band. Both betray a foggier take on that string-laden, psychedelic stage musical sound that Dave Fridmann found for Mercury Rev in the late '90s. Elsewhere, "46 Satires" -- the beautiful and pulsing Spiritualized-nod that opens the album -- floats from section to section before presenting a tastefully brief, but blistering, guitar solo from Lasek and eventually drifting into an almost gospel-like coda. While Goreas' father sadly passed away during the sessions for this album, you can't help but think that she has him in mind when tenderly ending the song with the line "Three rainbows arched over the valley where you lay." There is also a sense of reassurance and understanding from her husband that permeates the ghostly, Beach Boys-inspired track "The Specter." Here, when Lasek sings the equally tender refrain "Close your eyes," he invokes the same sentiment as the classic Wilson/Asher composition "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)." Touching moments such as these can be found across the album, offering a glimpse of pure heartfelt emotion that was sometimes lost amongst the abstract imagery of spies and soldiers that dominated previous albums. All in all, UFO is another valuable addition to their canon, completed with skill and affection in equal measure.

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