Yes, I am a Tornado Chaser

Yes, I am a Tornado Chaser

My favorite record of the year (so far)…

The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse

If you are going to name your record something as ambitious as The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, then you better have the balls (musically speaking) to back it up. Fortunately, The Besnard Lakes not only meet all the horrific beauty and epic posturing expected by their second release: they far surpass it. Are the Dark Horse could quite possibly be the first great record of 2007.

Recalling other lazily epic/criminally underrated works of clouded allure like Inouk’s No Danger or Sunset Rubdown’s Shut Up I Am Dreaming, Are the Dark Horse assembles eight otherwise-gorgeous-on-their-own pieces into a swelling mammoth of indistinct celebration and somber grace.

Opening track “Disaster” starts lazily with Jace Lasek’s careless falsetto over guitar and horn swells before erupting into a triumphant sing-along/freak-out that melts the song amid cries of “Baby c’mon…You’ve got disaster on your mind!” From here, the band shifts gears into “For Agent 13”, a soma-induced sink into the floor-boards of some church that both J Spaceman and Brian Wilson might worship at.

Other stand-out tracks “Ride the Rails” and “Devastation” make good use of the Wilson-eque harmonies over slow-building guitars and plenty of room sound, while “And You Lied to Me” channels Roger Waters and George Harrison for what might be the album’s most rocking moment.

Ultimately, Are the Dark Horse is an album that rewards patience. In pieces, these songs are terrific (if not readily accessible), but as a whole, the album is practically flawless. Are the Dark Horse masterfully straddles that fine line between spacey indie rock and pop brilliance and proves that The Besnard Lakes can hold their own with the Montreal rock elite they have long been associated.