At the end of the day, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night is just boring. I hope that this just represents a stumble in the career of an otherwise great band. How an album with such an epic title, great artwork, and loads of fuzzed out guitar solos fails to dazzle is beyond me.
Their last album, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, was a stunning record: a dark album that was equally comfortable laying down cold slabs of riffage or tending to the weak flame of a quiet melody. From the slow blooming firework of “Because Tonight” to the scalding bombast of “Devastation,” the album’s range and impact was impressive. On their followup, The Besnard Lakes shed almost everything that made them a mysteriously forceful band. Previously, the band could easily stretch a song into its 6th or 7th minute; the emotional punch of the song required that kind of build up. The length of the songs on Roaring Night, though, feels arbitrary and meaningless.
In the epic “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Part 2: The Innocent,” the band plods along for 7 minutes, padding the song with bland guitar histrionics and flat choruses (“Ooh, you’re like the ocean/Ooh, you’re like the innocent”). In fact, the whole album kind of plods along. About my fourth time through “Chicago Train,” it occurred to me that playing the song live probably isn’t any fun: there’s nothing in here to hook an audience. And “Glass Printer” is a shockingly forgettable song. Literally. I’ve listened to the album quite a few times now, and I can’t seem to remember that this one exists. Even “Albatross,” the good first single, loses a little bit of its luster when its couched by glassy-eyed dead-enders.
But what makes the album all the more irritating is that it’s evidently a concept album. According to Jagjaguwar, Roaring Night is a “twisting chronicle, or fever dream, of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, hatred all seen through the eyes of two spies, fighting in a war that may not be real.” I don’t know what the shit any of those words are supposed to mean. I’ve tried (albeit very briefly) to listen for such a plot. Nothing. And besides, concept albums are mostly stupid.