Beirut BeirutThe Rip Tide
We had hardly heard from him since “March Of The Zapotec And Realpeople Holland” (2009) and so we suspected Zach Condon was planning a big return. Well, here it is: the great third album by Beirut (with, however, its artwork fallow). “The Rip Tide” isn't surprising or unexpected, but simply the humble result of a work well thought through and even better executed. A delicatessen of heavenly pop - with songs even more tender than the ones on “Gulag Orkestar” and “The Flying Club Cup” - Condon has refined his pop nectar to the last drop. He is more to the point than ever and has managed to make his new tracks sound eternally youthful. The advance single, “East Harlem”, written when he was seventeen, is the perfect example of the freshness of this, his best album to date.
Warm, crystalline and deep; one of the main features of “The Rip Tide” is the freedom he brings to the group. Breaking the moulds of the sound he himself had made and setting himself free from the geographic belts holding him down allowed for Beirut's music - already aimed at an all-age audience - to sound even more universal. Curiously enough, the music helps Condon to find that place in the world he was looking for. He recently told The Quietus: “I feel like I’ve found a musical home with this record. And it was always there”. The newfound serenity is also the result of other decisive factors (Condon created his own label and has finally shaken off his fear of the studio and of talking about himself in his songs) that helped to oxygenate and reinforce the identity of the band. All that makes it impossible to listen to this album without getting the feeling that Condon has reached an ideal, that the previous records, in a way, were nothing more than secondary roads to reach this destination.
“The Rip Tide” has all the charm Beirut has displayed on its predecessors. The musical influences are the same as ever; although this time they appear more blurry, diluted, like on a watercolour painting. Absolutely everything, every instrument, every note, is excellent. The brass instruments and the strings are still blossoming in the centre, but instead of scattering all over the place, they sound more under control. The fanfare level has been brought down considerably and the piano has brought more melancholy ( “Goshen” is moving freely on Antony territory). Not only is the quality of the recording superb, Condon's voice sounds better than ever and he is confident enough to take on new challenges without fear: “Santa Fe” is the instant hit “Scenic World” never was and “Port Of Call” is reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens. Every track is worthy of the same kind of compliments: if you think a beautiful song can make your week, with this nine you’ll be good until autumn, at least.