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Beirut - Gallipoli (Album Review)

Friday, 08 February 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Zach Condon’s fifth album as Beirut is an elegant, if twee, manifestation of his signature sound: sweet melodies woven into culturally diverse arrangements and boxy, distinctive production. It’s a decent record that will reward diehard fans, but it also somehow feels locked in the late ‘00s with Fleet Foxes and the Shins.

Compositionally, Condon has leant on the drawbar organ for ‘Gallipoli’. Rescuing the instrument from his parents’ house in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the album has a grandeur and languor that appear informed by this beautiful, if unwieldy, instrument. Both On Mainau Island and the title track expose the best of this, featuring melodic patterns that are both hypnotic and charming.

In many ways, the strengths and weaknesses of ‘Gallipoli’ (the album) are manifested in Gallipoli (the song).

It is a track that starts strongly, dwells and then asserts that sense of grandeur unconvincingly. It hits the right marks, but its effect is undercut by a feeling of artistic stasis, which always runs the risk of entropy.

When Beirut broke through in 2006, Condon was heralded in some quarters as a genius: a one-man-band-composer-producer whose taste and talent were exquisite and his trajectory skyward.

Now his music sounds a the soundtrack to an advert for a mobile phone network. It’s crowd-pleasing and borderline kitsch. Some of this feeling might simply be that the world has caught up with Condon. But, then again, there is a lack of bite and interest in ‘Gallipoli’, despite its interesting sonic foundations.  

The American film director John Ford was once asked to describe his cinematic style and simply answered: ‘I make Westerns’. But Ford didn’t just make Westerns. He made films about the human condition, about frontierism, about America.

As an artist, Beirut’s oeuvre is far more complicated and textured, and yet the fundamental truth he exposes is watery and ephemeral. It’s the nocturnal illumination of a faraway city, without the nitty gritty detail of the lives of the people who live there.

Beirut Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 10 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Thu April 11 2019 - LEEDS Leeds Town Hall
Fri April 12 2019 - LONDON Eventim Apollo

Click here to compare & buy Beirut Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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