There is a war now. The message has been sent through short wave in code. The Besnard Lakes twisting chronicle, or fever dream, of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods has turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, hatred all seen through the eyes of two spies, fighting a war that may not be real. One follows the other as they receive coded messages and spread destruction. The city is burning, and it’s to the benefit of music obsessives everywhere. Once again, the husband-and-wife duo of Olga Goreas and Jace Lasek has crafted a majestic, sprawling vision of guitar bombast and captivating pop experiments.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night calls upon the influence of ELO and finer parts of the Alan Parsons Project in its orchestration. Still helped by the Ghost of Beach Boys Past, the album is more Dennis Wilson than Brian, and more Peter Green Fleetwood Mac than Lindsay Buckingham. That said, standout track “Albatross” has all the swagger of a Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac classic or Roy Orbison reimagined as a rollicking, snakeskin-booted Mazzy Star — dousing it all in gas and throwing the match as we hear its tale of Vancouver’s skid row and its inhabitants.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night was tracked and recorded on Breakglass Studio’s latest acquisition, a 1968 Neve germanium mixing console rumored to have been used to record portions of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. The album also introduces some new instrumentation for the band: 12 string guitar, flute, omnichord and mellotron. With the aid of Besnard members Kevin Laing on drums and Richard White on guitar, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night is a dense, ambitious recording, experimenting, as always, with the studio as instrument.

The album is a dark bliss-out that folds the eerie guitar epics of the Montreal band’s breakthrough into a wall of affected drones and atmospherics, but with a toughened immediacy and grit that gives the form a much-needed shove over the cliffs, making for a haunting, provocative swan dive into the crushing tide. (photo by Todd Stewart)