Review: Beirut’s new album is a celebration of cultures
Beirut, “Gallipoli” (4AD)
Front-man Zach Condon of indie folk rock band Beirut has a penchant for world music, pulling various cultural influences into every record he’s made. “Gallipoli” feels especially inspired. Some of the zest lacking in the band’s 2015 album “No No No” is fully realized in this new album.
Triumphant horns, Farfisa organ, synthesizer and parading drums pervade the tracks. Notes are channeled, according to Condon, through broken amplifiers, PA systems, space echoes and tape machines in order to create planned imperfection. Vocally, Condon comes through more powerful on this album than on “No No No.”
“Varieties of Exile,” ″Gallipoli” and “When I Die” are standouts. “Varieties of Exile” brings bohemian, island influences used by bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and adds The Smith’s Morrissey-like vocals.
The title track is lighthearted and jubilant, inspired by a brass processional Condon followed through the streets of the southern Italian town for which it is named. “When I Die” is more peaceful and joyful than morose. “When I die/I want to travel light,” Condon croons, “Don’t cry I/promise that I’ll get it right/I’ve been practicing my whole life.”
“Gallipoli” is the album we need today_one that celebrates the beauty of cultures colliding. Condon takes you with him, from the streets of Berlin to the coastline of Italy. As if cultural inclusion wasn’t obvious enough in its sonic representation, Condon makes it fully apparent on the band’s website which features an introduction to “Gallipoli” in seven languages including Portuguese and Japanese.
Hearing Condon return to vocal and expressive brilliance in this 12-track collection is a sigh of relief for Beirut fans. “Gallipoli” will be sweet music to the ears of new and non-fans, alike, as the band continues its exploration of diverse cultural sounds.