Have you ever wondered what 70’s era Pink Floyd would have sounded like if Syd Barrett hadn’t taken too much LSD resulting in his ejection from the band? In this alternate reality the band continues to experiment with improvised sonic soundscapes and never stumbles on formulaic commercial gold in the form of Dark Side of the Moon. If you took this band and injected it with a heavy dose of “Pet Sounds” harmonies and effects, and the stringed/orchestral instrumentation from early day Moody Blues. Finally, if you updated the resulting sound with modern overtones – distortion & tonalities – you might just end up with something similar to The Besnard Lakes’ The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse.

Less and more precisely, The Besnard Lakes are improvisational jams interjected with noise pop that mood swings from the melancholy to the inspirational over 6 minute long trippy opuses while invoking alternately haunting and reflective imagery in the listener.


Try saying that five times fast. On second thought, don’t. Take a cue from The Besnard Lakes and take your time to get where I’m going, where we’re going. Just read it over a few times and let it sink in and then ponder these questions:

Who said that a song should be three minutes long?

Why is everyone in a rush to get somewhere anyway?

Is it about getting there or is it about the journey?

If music for you is about the journey and if you miss the experimental and improvisational side of psychedelic pop rock that was killed dead in the 70’s by the over indulgent egos of prog rockers, then The Besnard Lakes are your band.

A personal favorite was “Rides the Rails,” a merger of all that was good and not pretentious and cheesy in the Moody Blues (think Ride My See Saw) with all that was experimental and strange in Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd.

Standouts aside, I dug the whole album, and really appreciate what these guys are up to. A short laundry list of things I appreciate: heavily reverbed falsetto male vocals, the tendency to never rush music, a diverse cross section of influences, experimentation, an obvious attention to detail, and tones from yesteryear (rotary/leslie reverb, Hammond organ tones) merged with more modern sounds. In short, I found the album refreshing, challenging, and unique; unique in spite of the obviousness of their influences. It was a joy to listen to yet made me sad, very sad indeed, that I live in Calgary and not Montreal, the epicenter of all that is good in indie music. I can just imagine that The Besnard Lakes would put on a phenomenal live show.

David Morley