Release date: August 30, 2011
The opportunity for Balkan folk music to make an impact on the indie scene does not come often. However, with the release of his debut album Gulag Orkestar in 2006, Zachary Condon the enigmatic young leader of the band Beirut accomplished just that.
Now, with the release of his third full-length The Rip Tide, Condon and company seem poised to spread the joy of their eclectic stylings to the world at large.
Though adhering less strictly to the traditional sounds of their previous records, the new disc focuses on a more pop-oriented approach this time around. And it’s pretty hard to argue with the results.
Longtime Beirut fans will instantly recognize the group’s signature usage of horns and other instruments like the accordion, organ, and piano. But it’s the newcomers who may be easily won over by all the hooks.
Indeed, many tracks feature amply hummable choruses and melodies. Opening number “A Candle’s Fire” begins with a short accordion coda before erupting into a drum and trumpet led march, which only becomes more pronounced by the muted ukulele-strum that accompanies the verse.
Elsewhere, “Payne’s Bay” plays more like a wistful waltz. And standout number “Santa Fe” includes forays into electronic music that are no doubt left over from Condon’s side project Realpeople.
Listen to “East Harlem” the first single off of Beirut’s new album The Ripe Tide here:
Perhaps most prevalent of all is the record’s consistently upbeat tone. While not necessarily sounding that strange, this fact is made unique by the location of where the songs were recorded – upstate New York in the dead of winter.
Condon said, “I write sad songs when it’s nice outside. I write warm and happy songs when I’m up to my neck in snow for three months.”
Far be it from me to wish anyone frostbite, but the only regrettable point about The Rip Tide is its brevity. Coming in with only nine tracks in just over half an hour, maybe the next time he records Condon should take up residence with Rudolph and the gang at the North Pole. That should do the trick.
For more information on Beirut or to see future tour dates please visit http://www.beirutband.com.
And don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter: