Besnard Lakes create a space to float through, you could even call that space a dreamscape. Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO is an ambient record, at times psych-influenced, at times dream-pop. With eight tracks all over five or six minutes long, “Until in Excess” surrounds you in a vague place that is disconcerting and comforting simultaneously.
Forming in 2001 in Montreal, Besnard Lakes is the project of husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. With a rotating cast of band members, the band put out their first full-length in 2003, Besnard Lakes, Vol. 1. Since then they have put out two other albums The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse and Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, and worked on a few soundtracks for Mark Ruffalo. Apart from Besnard Lakes, Lasek and Goreas run Breakglass Studios, recording albums for Stars, Wolf Parade, and other Canadian acts. The fact that they are producers is evident in Until in Excess, as the production is painstaking and multi-layered, surrounding you with sound.
The album begins slow and somewhat somberly with “46 Satires,” but it builds steadily for a couple of songs until “People of the Sticks” quite frankly shocks you with its foot tapping groove and circular guitar riff. It’s a definite standout track. From here the album really takes off, and Lasek’s vocals begin to totally fascinate the listener. On “The Specter” Lasek sounds like a mix of Brian Wilson (the dreamy harmonies definitely help), and the softer side of Jim James. The overall effect of Lasek’s upper register and the larger-than-life, dreamy production (shoegaze-y sound, slowly building song structure) reminds me undeniably of M83, especially 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Goreas’ vocals are eerily similar to early Broken Social Scene, which brings me right back to my high school days (think “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”). This is actually very interesting, as Besnard Lakes have an innately nostalgic sound; you feel not quite sad, but…wistful? Ultimately the record ends on an optimistic, albeit psychedelic note after bringing you on an aural adventure; “Color Yr Lights In,” a definite highlight of the album, feels like everything’s going to be alright. Lasek’s voice soars with conviction, and the upbeat chord progression lifts you out of the haze you didn’t even realize you were in for the last two songs.
And therein lies the magic of Until in Excess…I was honestly challenged to get through this record at first, losing myself in the shoegaze clouds, and just when I felt myself drifting off, the optimistic, soaring strings and driving drums shook me back to reality, a little different than I was before. Listen to Until in Excess on a long drive, or alone on your bedroom floor.