One listen to the bands break out album Gulag Orkestar and you’ll feel like your spending drunken nights jet setting across Europe, heartbroken and romanticizing about the people you’ve met and the places you’ll see.Some writers liken their sound to the Balkan Peninsula, a region of southeastern Europe that shares musical similarities with Beirut’s sound, one that is made up with the use of instruments such as ukulele, flugelhorn, accordion, trumpet, violin, organs, clarinet and other woodwind and brass instruments. Beirut’s music can best be described as a soundtrack to a travel journal, the sounds playing as you drive by a scenic landscape or the blissful blending of horns in your eardrum as you lift off the runway. It also helps that Zach Condon, the man who Beirut is the brainchild of, has a voice that encapsulate all the mysteries, innocence and joyousness of those gypsy travels spent in foreign lands taking in the sights, sounds and culture.
Shortly after the release of their first album, Condon assembled a full band to help take the music on the road. After releasing a few follow up EP’s, Beirut put on a second full length in 2007 titled The Flying Club Cub, that beefed up the sound including additional instrumentation and tighter musicianship. But it is on the bands most recent release, 2011’s The Riptide, that you really feel that Condon, as both a songwriter and a musician is beginning to fully blossom. You still have the familiar instrumentation but, you get the feeling that now instead of borrowing so heavily from the sounds that have influenced Beirut’s music thus far, they are finally making it all their own. “East Harlem” is a perfect representation of this, the song is upbeat and expressive while still providing a perfect tribute to their inspiration. Other standout tracks include, “Goshen”, title track “The Rip Tide” and “Vagabond”, the latter flowing perfectly over a bouncy low end piano riff. Like all of their albums, they should be listened to front to back as it take the listener on a musical journey into another time period where hitchhiking, open doors and a backpack full of supplies was all you needed to get by.The album closer, “Port of Call”, captures the emotion of longing so well, it leaves you wanting to re listen to the whole record again.
The band take the stage August 28th at the House of Blues in Boston. Reviews of their live shows have shown that the band delivers the goods live, performing the songs almost similar to the album but with an added energy that bring them from your ear-buds to the loudspeakers. Find seats for that show and others here.