Lakes of Canada has been described as one of Montreal's most pretentious bands, but "highbrow classically trained hippies with a woeful bent" is perhaps a more fitting description.
Lakes Of Canada has just released Transgressions, an album rooted in death and inspired by The Handmaid's Tale—Margaret Atwood's bleak 1985 best-seller set in a futuristic world that in some ways mirrors the caliphate Islamist extremists are fighting for today.
The album came about when lead vocalist Jake Smith was clearing out his mother's home after her death and discovered a copy of Atwood's novel and started reading it. That led to him writing a song, then another and pretty soon, Smith realized he had an entire album's worth of material, referencing the novel's themes, issues and imagining the character's perspectives in the lyrics.
In an interview, Smith says the band really stretched itself creatively in making Transgressions, as the book not only influenced the lyrics but the sound as well.
"There is an underlying current of gospel/soul that permeates the record, as well as a lot of liturgical and gothic elements throughout," Smith said. "We also tried to imbue the sound with a sort of dystopian feel to it (especially during the middle/conflict part of the record). Working with this subject matter really caused us to open ourselves musically to many themes and instruments that we had never touched on before."
Smith also reached out to Atwood who gave her consent for the band to use her characters and plot in the lyrics.
"I wanted the album to remind people not only that we need to continue to stand up for what's right, and for basic human decency, but also to not allow ego and bravado to cloud our judgment," he said in a recent CBC interview. "I wanted it to remind us that we are all fallible, and that we all have the potential both to solve, and to contribute to, the problems that we face as a culture."