You know those weird bands you find only by way of indie movie soundtrack? Well, The Besnard Lakes are one of those. Mark Ruffalo found them in what he called a “little cache in Montreal” of DIY musicians, many of which — like The Besnard Lakes — have their own recording studios and equipment. He wanted them for his 2010 film “Sympathy for Delicious,” which won the Special Jury Prize and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2010.
Something between Beach House, Arcade Fire and Band of Horses, they sound like an alt-rockified amalgamation of ’60s rock and contemporary ambient electronic. Married couple Jace Lasek and Olga Gureas form the group’s core, and they’ve just released their fifth album, A Coliseum Complex Museum. None of their releases goes over 45 minutes long and few go over 8 tracks — their songs are meant to be listened to as part of a whole. Sometimes it takes several minutes (or several songs) to come across any lyrics at all.
Well, it sometimes takes several minutes to come across any spoken lyrics. The music itself, though, is very organically expressive, almost lyrical in its sonic quality alone. The music does not need the crude approximation of words as a crutch for delivering meaning — the meaning transcends. Perhaps this is what the core duo means when they say that being in nature inspires them, for their sensibility might even be described as transcendentalist.
A Coliseum Complex Museum is not by any means a departure from earlier work. It seems to follow the same trajectory, but it’s more conducive to casual listening on a track-by-track basis than on a full-album scale. The album’s only single, “The Plain Moon,” could even be described as catchy, something one couldn’t have said quite as easily for previous releases.
This is not to say A Coliseum Complex Museum represents the group selling out by any means. They maintain the same gritty, kinda dirty, alt-rock, technofolk sound they’ve always had — but this album feels like it has a little more momentum behind it than previous releases. The Besnard Lakes are a hidden gem, unassuming in a sea of alternative music that these days can feel a little too overwrought, a little too heady. A Coliseum Complex Museum is like a tension-releasing exhale.