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CD Review: The Besnard Lakes, Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

Listen to The Besnard Lakes' "Disaster," and I guarantee you, the first musical reference that comes to mind will be the Beach Boys. All of the elements are there: the languid falsetto, lightly woven harmonies, and muted brass and sleepy surf strings. But then you realize: The Besnard Lakes actually sound nothing like the Beach Boys.

In fact, the latest band to break out of Montreal has a quite novel sound, at once chilly, grandiose, and catchy. Better yet, the more I listen to the group's just-released second album, Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar), the more complex it becomes, so

In a way that's somewhat similar to the Texas instrumental group Explosions in the Sky, the Besnard Lakes excel at using orchestral instrumentation (violins, glockenspiel, you name it). But rather than achieve a symphonic effect, the band touches on all manner of accessible pop melodies.

The Besnard Lakes don't just draw on the Beach Boys in "Disaster" but also get inspiration from Zombies-style Brit-pop on jaunts like "Cedric's War," which you can listen to below. On the tracks where the haunting vocals of Olga Goreas take the lead — including "For Agent 13" and "Because Tonight" — the vibe leans more toward the sweeping, Cocteau Twins-style drama. What's remarkable is how perfectly the songs play off one another, creating an effect that's both dark and hopeful at the same time. Listen to the song below and let me know what you think.


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