Coming off the heels of their second appearance on the Polaris Prize shortlist, The Besnard Lakes are back with Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, another collection of orchestral slow burners.
Husband and wife bandleaders Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas and their bevy of collaborators have created eight dreamy, textured songs that shift and evolve over their many minutes. The songs are formulaic, opening with pulsing drones followed by Lasek and Goreas’ lilting voices alongside drums, guitars, and keys. The instrumentation blossoms into full-blown orchestral grandeur, while the vocals are eventually washed out. While the instrumentation is intricate, several of the tracks fail to make an impact due to the lack of discernable hooks.
The standout track of the album, “And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold,” uses Lasek’s vocals to control the song among the percussion, strings, keyboards, and guitars. While the vocal tracks are usually lost amidst the roaring instruments, this track avoids that pitfall, dodging the potential of being used as mere background music—a fate that unfortunately befalls most of the album’s other songs. Seven-minute album closer “Alamogordo,” for instance, fails to make an impact despite heavy percussion and synthesizers, and has little substance beyond sheer volume.
The album is technically impressive, and the songs are calm and easy to listen to. This is by no means a bad album, just one that occasionally drifts into the background of the mind.