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CD Review: The Besnard Lakes 

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

Married couple Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek are the mainstays of Montreal band the Besnard Lakes. They operate a studio that's hosted Stars, the Dears and Wolf Parade. It's given them plenty of opportunity to explore the nuances of their own records, but all the studio time is too much of a good thing. Like their U.S. debut three years ago, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night is overly ponderous and self-important. That's all well and good when a band has the chops or concepts to back up such pretension, but the Besnard Lakes lack both. The songs here are often meandering and unfocused, caught between a proggy approach on the wannabe epic "Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent" and the tighter shoegaze-like "Albatross." The indecision makes for an uneven listen. Lasek sports an ill-advised falsetto on too many tracks (his caterwauling on the first half of "Chicago Train" is particularly gruesome). The closest the band comes to pulling off their pop-prog mix is on the Beach Boys/Galaxie 500 mashup "Light Up the Night." Unfortunately, it's Roaring Night's penultimate song, making it too little, too late.

Chris Drabick

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