Review : Beirut - The Rip Tide
SputnikmusicThe longed after distraction of escapism has always fallen more certainly under film’s jurisdiction than music’s, while the latter has, broadly speaking, clung to a style of storytelling decidedly more personal - closer to parables and poetry. But when Zach Condon whisked us away four years ago with The Flying Club Cup, a veritable guided tour through cobblestone streets and Balkan gypsy settlements, it was one of the few records around genuinely trembling with that cinematic quality. Every song painted a picture; an ideal world of sepia-toned Mediterranean coastal towns that, at the precise moment the band poised itself behind the flare of a trumpet, would pull you through the frame. No song since “Postcards From Italy” has better encapsulated the desire for travel, romance and the will to simply be, with someone you love, in a foreign place, floating in the cold current of an Atlantic ocean, to exist comfortably in a situation better than where you are right now, and not because Condon had experienced these things and was relaying it all back to us, but because the music was written through a filter of these dreams and aspirations.
Despite this, The Rip Tide is the first Beirut record to depart from that common thread of yearning and in doing so, opens the doors for listeners to glimpse Condon and co. at a much more personal level than as some admirable traveling troubadour. “Santa Fe”, for example, takes its title from the town Condon grew up in and in its bouncy synth rhythm, perfectly demonstrates one of the records most terrific surprises; The Rip Tide is also the first Beirut album to fully embrace the pop sensibilities Condon so deftly displayed in songs like “Scenic World” and nurtured through his side project, Realpeople. Others like “A Candle’s Fire” and the terrific first single “East Harlem” put this talent on full display, marking a surprising but welcome change in tone for an artist that seemed to once carry the burden of perpetual melancholia in every husky warble....full text
RevilerThe story of Beirut’s music thus far has been one of shifting national identities. What began as a project inspired by Balkan folk music, culminating in their first LP, Gulag Orkestar, took on a chanson française flavor on their sophomore album, Flying Club Cup, and turned in a very different, norteño-inspired direction on their March of the Zapotec EP. However, on their latest album – their first LP in four years – they seem to give up their international influences and settled on a sound that can only be called “pop.” Nevertheless, The Riptide doesn’t feel like that big of a departure for them. All of the recognizable Beirut elements are here, from the florid (sometimes overly-florid) melodies, to the folk trumpet, to the anchor of it all, Zach Condon’s lush baritone. The Riptide offers nine lovely tracks, and for Beirut fans, it will be a welcome addition to the catalog....full text
UnderthegunreviewBeirut is oft-praised for his seamless interweaving of world music with more indie sensibilities, and on The Rip Tide, his latest release, he does so with particularly impressive skill. There’s a beautiful depth and sensitivity to all of the tracks on this record, as the songs flow effortlessly into one another to fill your speakers with a nebulous yet memorable grace.
The first track, “A Candle’s Fire,” opens things on a seemingly sentimental note before the instruments kick in properly to give the song a warm, almost jolly punch. The thick slab of brass mixes with the drums to give it a jazzy yet strangely sweet sound. The vocals are gentle and mellifluous while hinting at much stronger feelings, and ground the song throughout as the instruments seem more ambitious in the swell towards a jubilant bridge. This is a unique and compelling opener and exceptionally well executed. “Santa Fe” introduces a slightly more contemporary sound with a synthesizer effect placed carefully beneath the vocal melodies. The drums once again bring a fun-loving aspect as the song rolls forth on a hearty bass line, building to a gorgeous final swell that neatly juxtaposes the artificial sound of the synth with the undemanding, homely feel of the other instruments.
It’s clear even from this early point in the record that in spite of the relatively simplistic feel of the songs, the enthusiasm and warmth inherent in the instruments prevents them from sounding bland or incomplete. There’s an endearingly tasteful feel to the music that’s often lacking from other records today and it convinces almost effortlessly. Such is further evident in “East Harlem’s” delicate, understated approach and the poignant air of fragility conjured by the piano in “Goshen.” The latter in particular is quite a sincere and loving track that vividly captures the hidden depths of the album.
Moving along, “Payne’s Bay” and “The Rip Tide” highlight the musical excellence on show here particularly well. “Payne’s Bay” picks up on the sweetness lingering after “Goshen” and develops it, adding a more celebratory note. The instruments stutter slowly but surely into life, building an almost raucous and adventurous tone which is all the more impressive considering the self-effacement of the vocals and overall ease of the sound. The title track then begins with a delicately luscious piano before adding some effects to heighten the atmosphere. The lyrics are minimal and the sound feels subtler, as the instrumentation is interspersed in a pensive, evocative manner....full text
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