Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beirut- The Rip Tide

The lights are down, go on inside, they've paid.

It's a joyous sound...come forth... Zach Condon has come down from the mountain top and holds not stone tablets, but a new album "The Rip Tide." The new songs are almost sublime, awash in soothing vocals and musical sounds. The music is relaxed and loose, unlike Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, the fellas seem to be having fun. Both of those previous albums felt like academic studies.. Euro Music 101.  While they were beautiful and groundbreaking they lacked a warm fuzzy center.

Gulag Orkestar was a radical departure from everything we had ever heard. "The Flying Club Cup" was showy and cocky flaunting it's French chanson influences like a line of can-can dancers. But we see now that both of those albums were a whimsical indulgence, an artistic exploration of musical boundaries. On this album Zach's vocals ooze with confidence, gone is the beerhall bellow of old, replaced by actual soulful singing. This is the first album from Zach since 2009's "March of the Zapotec/Holland" a release that was to say the least... underwhelming. Although, in retrospect "Holland" was a dress rehearsal for "The Rip Tide"  

The colloquialism of  "March of The Zapotec" was hard on the ears for casual listeners (unless you have a Mexican brass fetish)  The flip side,  Holland was not "The Joys of Losing Weight" just a close approximation. On "The Rip Tide" Zach throws everything into the blender: Pop, Balkan and Mexican styles. The brass on "The Rip Tide" is accessible, but there is a subtle shift away from the Eastern European influences.   

headstrong today, I've been headstrong

"Payne's Bay" starts soft and sweet with strings and accordion, "I can't belong to the dirt.. I can't put on your fire" then it breaks into a stunningly beautiful brass recital backed by muted drums and serene vocals "This town's alone and therefore, I see no end in sight"  On "Port of Call/Cuixmala" Zach uses horns where others would use guitars or strings, the result is awe inspiring. "Santa Fe" like other songs on the album sounds vaguely familiar. Zach's pays homage to the city he grew up in without relying on stereotypical imagery. "The Peacock" builds to a quiet climax, achingly beautiful and introspective. 

"The Rip Tide" strikes me as the hit "And this is the house where I feel alone" a David Letterman showcase tune for sure. Wanderlust and regret are the topic on "Vagabond" "Left a trail of stones to find my way home" Beauty incarnate, describes "A Candle's Fire" horns usher in Zach's yearning vocals."Tonight we rest beside the fire, a smile upon your face,  Just don't forget a candle's fire is only just a flame" We float on air over the New York City skyline on "East Harlem" Zach's love for his adopted home shines through. "Goshen" takes the emotional level up a notch. I'll admit that it's a song that leaves me with tears streaming down my face. It really is that hauntingly beautiful "You're the face in stone, through the land I own, you never found it home."

shake the tree and see what falls out of there

So often, the long wait between albums is hardly worth while, that's not the case with "The Rip Tide." After "March of the Zapotec/Holland" I told myself, the next album will have to be a masterpiece. The music is drop dead gorgeous, the album is nearly flawless, it exceeds the  craziest of expectations. "The Rip Tide" was set for an Aug. 30th release, but was leaked to YouTube and has been out for a few weeks already.  While it's good for music fans, it can't be much good for the musicians. Buy the album, you won't be disappointed.

Por dios...ahora puedo morir en paz. (comment left on YouTube)