- 11 Feb 19
RETURN TO FORM FOR BAROQUE POP MERCHANTS
In 2015, Beirut released their fourth studio album, No No No. The ambitiously orchestrated pieces from the band’s first LPs – which pulsed with nostalgia for Old Europe, and were elevated by frontman Zach Condon’s rich vocals – had fallen by the wayside. Instead, the New Mexico indie-folk outfit favoured a more stripped-down approach. Perhaps it was the result of recording over a few weeks in the middle of a New York winter; or indeed a product of the period of personal turbulence Condon had recently experienced (he was hospitalised and went through a divorce).
Whatever the reason, the record has real emotional impact – and finds Beirut back at their best. According to Condon, the inspiration for the title track came from witnessing a brass band procession in Gallipoli itself. Notably, the romantic nature of that experience informs the rest the album too. Indeed, the songs play like an elegiac soundtrack to the last days of summer. In ‘When I Die’, airy strings and distant brass sounds build in a way that is hopeful and uplifting. However, this optimistic tone is offset by the more complex, bittersweet feel of tunes like ‘Gauze für Zah’ and ‘Light In The Atoll’.
On Gallipoli, Beirut have delivered a record that’s hugely accessible without compromising their artistic vision. No mean achievement.