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The Besnard Lakes

You Lived in the City

(Jagjaguwar; US: 20 Sep 2011; UK: import)

You Lived in the City mostly comprises music the Besnard Lakes composed for Welcome to Pine Point, a multimedia documentary about a Canadian mining town. The band proved long ago a knack for cinematic size, and these songs are further evidence of its sonic heft. The textures, though, are a good deal more fragile than we’re used to. This take on Trooper’s “We’re Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time)” is a smoldering, atmospheric number. It rides on airy keyboards for a long time before a squall of guitars comes out in its climax. As these tracks move on, however—from the similarly airy “Holiday Sin” to the tense but still spacey “Some Colour the Sky”—the atmosphere doesn’t quite hold up on its own. These are sweet sounds, but you might find yourself wanting to see the images that go along with them to fill the gaps. “The Corner”, written but never used for a film called Memories Corner, is the best tune here. It shows the band’s muscled approach to space better than the others. It roils and storms, making its huge and controlled mess, which unfortunately shows what the other tracks often lack.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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