Beirut, a musical project led by Santa Fé native Zach Condon, returns to the road this fall with a gorgeous new album that will no doubt capture the imagination of old and new fans alike.
In the past the music of Beirut combined elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk Condon first encountered on trips to Europe almost a decade ago with Western pop music. While those influences have note been eschewed, the more exotic bits seem reigned in and more concise.
Previous Beirut releases The Flying Cup Club (2007) and Zapotec allowed the listener to take a journey to France and Mexico respectively, while the new album, The Rip Tide, challenges the listener to take a personal and more familiar universal journey. This inward focus places the group to follow in the footsteps of indie rock darlings the Arcade Fire.
The Rip Tide, released on the label started and wholly owned by Condon, Pompeii Records, to give him fully independent artistic control, clocks in at a tightly focused 34 minutes. Condon succeeds in making the daring leap toward that many artists dare on their the third full-length record yet not all achieve.
The press release continues the description of the new material -
These songs started as small melodies, conceived on piano or ukulele, then built upon by the entire band's contributions in the studio, before undergoing a paring down and retrofitting by Condon. What results is a record that sounds like it could have been recorded in one session, with exciting rhythms matching the upbeat horns and contrasting the mournful strings.
Lyrically, Condon, the 25-year-old songwriter, shifted focus on the new album away from imaginative pieces about far away lands and instead the songs speak of love, friendship, isolation and community - universal human themes that resonate with a wider audience.
Upon first listen the overwhelming thought that kept coming back was if a resurrected John Phillip Souza started composing music in the present day this might be how it would sound especially on a track like "Payne's Bay". While that description seems odd, the songs are particularly moving. These light, airy pop tracks don't weigh down the listener but grab the listener with their immediacy.
Recorded in Upstate New York, Brooklyn, and Condon's hometowns of Albuquerque and Santa Fé, the album received immaculate production by Griffin Rodriguez. The perfect sonic spacing of the instrumentation allow these beautiful songs to ferment in your brain before carving out their own permanent area.
Condon, on trumpet and ukulele, augments the live performances with many of the musicians who helped record the album including Perrin Cloutier on accordian, Paul Collins on bass, Ben Lanz on trombone, Nick Petree on drums, and Kelly Pratt on horns. Citing jazz as a major influence, Condon and his group will surely give these live performances a special touch by exploring new, exciting directions.
Beirut - "Santa Fé"
Presented by 88.1 KDHX, Beirut performs at The Pageant on Sunday, October 9, 2011 with opener Laetitia Sadier. General Admission tickets are $25 in advance and $30 day of show.