[Album Review] The Besnard Lakes- A Coliseum Complex Museum
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Release Date: January 22nd, 2016
Label: Jagjaguwar/Outside Music

A Coliseum Complex Museum is the fifth full-length album from quintessential indie-rockers Besnard Lakes.  Now more than a decade since the band’s beginnings, this album is perhaps a more polished return to the things they do and know best. Delving more then ever into mesmerizing, reflective themes of natural imagery, and expanding on the bands tendencies towards 70s melodies and synced vocal harmonies, A Coliseum Complex Museum, like the name perhaps suggests, is a curated exhibit of songs, each soaked in organic imagery and old school flare.   

We enter with the track “Bray Road Beast”, an anthemic opener that quickly sets the tone of the retro epic. Following this is “Golden Lion”, a song that starts out simply enough, inviting us in with a steady bass and just a sprinkle of psychedelia then driving deeper into one of those steady rolling paces worthy of road trips down hot, sun spangled highways. They even pull the classic rock key-change thing near the end.  (So classic!)  “Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound” is another fave, which by-far takes the trophy for maxing out on reverb and vocal harmonies.  The chorus is so in your-face beautiful and nostalgic, listening to it kind of insinuates this false sense of homesickness for a time twenty years previous to my actual birth. 

This is one of those albums I would be able to sit back and listen to with a parental figure at easy, not worrying about possibly igniting some sort of awkwardness or discomfort from my abrasive music choices.  Its a kind of gentle transition between the old and new, a nice ‘let’s all hold hands and co-exist,’ bridge for an often misunderstood generation gap of music fans.

There is a tried and true classic familiarity to a lot of the sounds on this album.  It contains some of the formulaic elements I would expect from one of my dad’s classic vinyl’s, the bursts of power-ballad choruses, warm distortion, and wavering 70s synth to name a few, but the sound is also much more chiseled and clear when it intends to be. (I guess we have 21st century recording studios to thank for that.)

One could slot this album in with Fleetwood Mac or the late Beatles, just as easily as Tame Impala or Grizzly Bear.  It seems the band have also intentionally tried to emulate a very vintage feel with the context of their lyrics.  Rich with images of natural phenomenon and expansive landscapes, there is not even a hint of 2016 anywhere in the text. 

A Coliseum Complex Museum is a beam of golden retro sunshine.  I wish to road trip back in time and enjoy it through jukebox speakers on the side of some desolate southern highway.  Besnard Lakes has managed to extract only the best elements of years gone by into a pulpy glass of fresh squeezed.  They are a band who knows how and when to use the abilities of hindsight properly, pulling the past smack dab into present instead of just lamenting like we all know how to.