The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings (FatCat) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021  

The Besnard Lakes

The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings


Jan 26, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Five years on from their last album and Montreal based psych-rockers The Besnard Lakes return with their sixth studio album, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings. After 2016's A Coliseum Complex Museum saw them attempt to embrace brevity, The Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings sees them return to their protracted psychedelic meanderings. The result is an album that isn't exactly Spotify friendly and it's one that requires a large degree of focus from the listener. 

Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings is released on double vinyl with each side being given a thematic name: "Near Death" is the title of the first side followed by "Death," "After Death," and "Life." Its therefore no surprise to learn that it’s an album informed by loss, namely that of singer Jace Lasek's father in 2019 but it also includes a tribute to others, such as Mark Hollis of Talk Talk and Prince. “Feuds With Guns” is possibly the jauntiest moment on the album with an MGMT type vibe that clocks in at about four and a half minutes, whilst at the other end of the spectrum the title track and album closer racks up almost 18 minutes, which may test the patience of the less dedicated listener. There are the times when you don't exactly feel you're walking through a thunderstorm, more a misty fog as there are moments wherein some tracks feel indistinct and nebulous, as if the slow forming fragments of a song are about to disappear into the ether before you can latch on to them. There are times when the band give obvious nods to classic albums by the likes of Spiritualized and Pink Floyd, but they manage to avoid pastiche despite this being an unashamed slice of prog psych. 

It's an album that will delight the band's fanbase, and there are some powerful and profound moments with arrangements that are beyond the realms of what would be considered standard rock music. This is serious music taking on weighty themes, although for the more casual listener it demands patience as the songs do take a while to lift off as layers of sound build into dark foreboding otherworldly soundscapes. If cinematic psych rock is your bag and you have the staying power to let the album envelope you, you'll doubtless find this a thrilling and majestic body of work. If you’re looking for a quick melodic musical hit to put a spring in your step this probably won't be the album for you. It can be a challenging listen and there are times when the pay off doesn't always reward that effort. Although on slow-burning tracks such as “The Father of Time Wakes Up” (which laments the death of Prince)with its Brian Wilson harmonies and spiralling guitars—persistence certainly pays off. (

Author rating: 7/10

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