Although 'The Rip Tide' is Beirut’s first album in four years, it’s been very much worth the wait. By many accounts, this is their most accessible effort so far which has led some fans to accuse band founder, Zach Condon of selling out. The criticism is unfair as this record arguably finds Condon at his most open and it feels like the natural next step in Beirut’s already incredibly varied career.
'A Candle’s Fire' is a proper album opener, bursting the record into life with soaring horns. Indeed, horns are scattered throughout the album but in contrast to say Mark Ronson’s use of them, they compliment beautifully the melodies and never become overbearing. It’s followed by 'Santa Fe', a love song to the place of his birth where he pines to return to the safety and security of the location he knows best.
'Goshen' continues on the same theme with lyrics like "you never found it home/a fair price I'd pay to be alone". Starting with a lone piano, the song build carefully with a military style drum beat as he describes the need to step up to the plate - "You're on in five, it's time you rise or fail". While 'Payne’s Bar' arguably has the most epic of all the arrangements on the album, it is the title track which is the real standout on the album. It’s lush, soothing sounds mask the sadness of the lyrics with Condon desperately seeking tranquillity.
Indeed, the feeling of being lost and lonely haunts the album, even through the more upbeat, jaunty song arrangements like 'Vagabond'. The album closes with 'Port Of Call', an entrancing song underscored with propulsive rhythm. Fortunately, it betrays a glimmer of hope for the protagonist as Condon proclaims "I can be saved".
What 'The Rip Tide' perhaps lacks in longevity, it more than makes up with its quality. The record demonstrates a remarkable level of assurance and it’s truly exciting there is so much more to come from Condon. It will be intriguing to see what Beirut’s next’s step having previously successfully embraced Eastern European folk, traditional French music and Jacques Brel. One hopes this wonderful, disarmingly honest album truly brings the band the wider attention they deserve.
STREAM: Beirut - The Rip Tide
STREAM: Beirut - Santa Fe by Revolver USA
'The Rip Tide' will be released in the UK on August 29th. Stream the album at Soundcloud and pre-order at amazon.co.uk.