Photo by Ric Harris


Formed in 2003 by Québécois husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, The Besnard Lakes are something rather special live. With earlier albums The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse and The
Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night erring towards the intellectual indie side of indie rock, over the last 10 years the band have really developed their sound into something beautifully rich and complex. Tonight The Ruby Lounge has the pleasure of being host to the band on their tour of their latest, curiously titled album Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO released in April.

Given the seeming fragility of tracks such as ‘Chicago Train’ and ‘Albatross’ recorded on 2010’s The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, one might have expected an introspective performance. Nothing of the sort. While many of the band’s songs commence softly and sweetly, gradually layer upon layer of reverb, drums and bass are added to swell into irresistible crescendos. Live, this sort of creativity packs a powerful punch. The “Bezzie” Lakes open with one of their earlier, heavier numbers ‘Devastation’, which immediately energizes the atmosphere to set the record straight. Led by the deceptively unassuming Goreas on bass, the song is dark and forthright with pounding basslines and a fiery quality. Goreas’s voice is at times solid and commanding, and at others deliciously gentle, as in Until In Excess’s ‘The Specter’. A touching refrain reminiscent of The Beach Boys, here her counterpart Lasek is especially captivating, with his ethereal alto adding a sentimental resonance to haunting lyrics: “Can you hear me knocking from the other side?“ When the last chord dies away the room is stunned.

In the wake of this enigmatic performance the band move on to another new track ‘Catalina’, which opens with a whimsical Steve Laing on guitar. This is a poignant duet, with Goreas’s deep, plaintive soprano a weight to Lasek’s airy cries. There is a constant tension between light and dark within The Besnard Lakes, with soft laments contrasted by crashing drums and deep rumbles. Indeed drummer Richard White is a master at his game, with his tightly clustered drumkit exploding under the force of his rhythmic fury.

The set is heavily biased towards new material, but for once this doesn’t seem to dampen the audience’s spirits. There are one or two requests for older numbers from a few devoted fans, but it is clear that in a year or two, the new songs we heard tonight will be firm favourites too. One of the last numbers that the band plays is ‘Colour Yr Lights In’, which is both reminiscent of their back catalogue and nothing like it.  A steady, hypnotic opening by Lasek on guitar takes its time to boil, when suddenly his trademark soaring vocals plunge into a 70s-style chorus along with the rest of the band. Goreas’s bass solo is spectacular, and with White smashing his drums to pieces in the background, it is a most majestic show. This is some of their most exciting material to date, and while The Besnard Lakes may have a decade of experience under their belts, it is certain that the best is yet to come.


Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.