Album: The Rip Tide
You’ll still hear an accordion and trombone on Beirut’s newest release, The Rip Tide, but as more of an accompaniment to the worldly baroque pop band than as the confounding earcatch. The Euro feeling of peregrinating through old cities on an outdated map and Zach Condon’s Ray-Bans remains, but the ecleticism steps back and braces itself as the trolley pulling Beirut gears up, goes a little faster, and dizzies the genteel French horn with a newfound directness. The Rip Tide is a fitting title for the album which, though a little more Westernly straightforward, drives with power.
In “Santa Fe”, Beirut’s wunderkind, Zach Condon, hints at an emotional turnaround, as well as musical one. He pines for his native city (“Sign me up, Santa Fe/ And call your son”) after years of an Ottoman affair. The non-American influences still pervade the song (as they do the city) but Condon’s renewed interest in a younger sound (and nation) shows in this less ornate arrangement. And the result is very agreeable.
The piano, an instrument that has gone over embarassingly well in English-speaking regions of the world, assumes a more central role on The Rip Tide than on previous releases. “Goshen”, a good if not great ballad, spools a grief-stricken series of piano keys and the title track comes together around Condon’s mid-tempo piano, while he delivers vocals like he has a fist-sized knot in his throat.
“Payne’s Bay” is a less raw yet better refined take on The Flying Club Cup’s dreamiest elements, drawing maudlin strings and cymbal crashes into its foreground. The opening number, “A Candle’s Fire”, paragraphed by a warm and noble brass section, also strikes a sound deal between the old quarter of Beirut and the emerging one. It’s in this way that The Rip Tide is extremely fruitful, bridging Condon’s Old World fetish– fairly unrivaled in American music– to a more accessible but plenty sophisticated transatlantic pop.