There’s a long tradition in what the Besnard Lakes have released on their 2016 album, A Coliseum Complex Museum. On first listen, it ignites memories of something you might have heard before from a different era. It goes back to the ‘90s UK shoegazer movement where the wall of noise bled into the neo-pop of bands like Ride, Inspiral Carpets and The Stone Roses. There are corollaries in the US as well with Lush and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It has also been said (and indeed seems rather obvious) that these bands were heavily inspired by ‘70s psychedelic rock. But that same sound has been occurring more and more lately. We heard it most recently in 2014 with The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream. But what this Montreal, Canada-based band brings to the table on their latest is an authenticity and commitment to the sound that many of the others abandoned. Where they tried to modernize, the Besnard Lakes wholeheartedly invest in the idea of psychedelic rock. If the sub-genre has roots, this is far more heavily rooted than most of the bands ilk.

Notably, “The Bray Road Beast” opens the record on what seems like a positive note. The tone and mood have a lightness, which is felt throughout the record and seems unlikely given the band’s stated predilections for occult themes. The vocals are heavily layered and highly harmonized making many of them practically indiscernible. Like Sigur Ros, however, it hardly seems to matter. The songs here are far more about mood and background ambience than anything in-your0face or lyrically affecting.

There are only eight tracks on the album and clocking in at just under forty minutes it’s a pretty brief tryst. The soprano cries along the groove of “Golden Lion” weave nicely into the slightly more pensive “Pressure of Our Plans.” There are some nice breaks where Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas’ vocals are allowed space to breathe. Perhaps because the rest of the record is so rich with monotonous tones and textures, these minimal sections of simple voices carry a great weight.

From track to track there isn’t a lot of variation in the style or instrumentation. It’s one of those albums that is probably best enjoyed spread out in a mixtape with a lot of other styles and artists. Each song is strong on its own but played back-to-back, the album has a tendency to drone and become a single, 40-minute meditation. “Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound” is the first song in which the drums stand out as having a slightly different pattern. Like Lush’s masterpiece Spooky, the rhythm foundation is laid before the harmonies begin, but once they do there’s little room for anything else.

“The Plain Moon” is a little bit of an exception to the rule in that the high-pitched harmonies are shorter and more stuttered than anywhere else. Goreas’ vocals are dominant here with the layers of Lasek providing more of a backup channel. The refrain “Put those guns away!” is timely given everything that went down in the US in 2016. Though whether or not this song has anything to do with those issues is anybody’s guess. The point is, it doesn’t matter. This album is a projection on the wall of your psyche. It offers a moving shadow in the sun, racing quickly across your peripheral vision but unidentifiable in its origins. It’s music for chilling out and listening lazily. As such, it’s well done and well worth your time.

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