A tad belated but necessary regardless, I must speak volumes on Beirut’s new album, so hold on and prepare for word vomit. Zach Condon of Beirut (it’s always tricky with largely one-man bands like these- are the band and the leader synonymous or not?) released The Rip Tide August 30th of this year, to relatively good critical review, and good god was the wait worthwhile.
When Call to Arms began to play on a road trip through Eastern Europe four or five years ago, Beirut wormed itself into my heart instantly. With Hispanic, Balkan, and a myriad of other rhythms from all far corners of the earth, yet a simultaneous ability to retain painfully beautiful melodies, Beirut was nothing short of perfection.
However, the gap between The Flying Club Cup, released in 2008, and the new album was, to put plainly, a tad excessive. I went into Beirut withdrawal. I came to a point where I might as well have been thrashing frantically in a padded cell in anticipation for something new. The trouble is, The Rip Tide has nine new tracks. Nine. Hardly enough, right?
Wrong, at least somewhat. These nine tracks, whether individually or as a collective unit, are a fair reward for such a lengthy wait. Undoubtedly, as with The Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestar before it, The Rip Tide documents Zach Condon’s slow transition from pure, slightly musically abrasive folk, to more melodic, pop-driven tunes. Condon, however, does not completely relinquish the accordion, trumpet, and ukulele. He inserts it tactfully, mixing it with lyrics which are, as per usual, ingenious. Tracks like Payne’s Bay are strongly reminiscent of much of Gulag Orkestar, for example. Santa Fe, however, a likely homage to Condon’s hometown (I have never tried to track down another human being quite to such an extent as to when I visited that city), might as well be a modern pop ballad.
I can’t deny that I do pine for some good Balkan-inspired cacophony of countless instruments and Condon’s idiosyncratic tone, but I’m not disappointed by Beirut’s newer sound. Though it is more of a widely appreciated style, it remains uniquely Beirut’s.
I’m crossing my fingers for an EP sometime soon, since having to make it through another three years replaying my entire Beirut library is an extremely painful prospect.
Here are a few tracks from The Rip Tide worth noting:
Port of Call