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Album Review
The Rip Tide

The Rip Tide
by Beirut


Review Date
15th August 2011
Reviewed by
Ben Coley

It has been four years since Beirut's last studio album The Flying Club Cup. We got teasers with 2009 EPs March Of The Zapotec and Holland- the electronic side project - however, it was always going to be interesting to see where mastermind Zach Condon was going to take us next with his blend of Indie, Balkan folk and World music.

While The Rip Tide sounds very much like a Beirut album , strings, horns and pianos are all still the main focus throughout. It is a more stripped back version than we have become accustomed to than on Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup. This more refined and honed sound gives us a more personal and honest record and as a listener we are all the more beneficial and rewarded for it, especially with multiple listens.

The album is bookended by Conden's trademark ukelele. "A Candle's Fire" and "Port Of Call" build and soften and then break out with the sprawling horns and strings that we are use to seeing with Beirut songs. But what sets The Rip Tide apart is that it doesn't just focus on one aspect or style. "Sante Fe" has an electronic tinge to it in the vein of the Holland EP. "Payne's Bay" and "Vegabond" are gypsy folk numbers that twist and turn in dramatic fashion, while "Goshen" and "The Peacock" are delicate piano ballads showing off Conden's beautiful and elegant voice.

This mix of styles blend together perfectly and while being a relatively short album, just a touch over 30 minutes. There is no room for anything unnecessary. It's the strongest collection of songs and the most pieced together album that Conden has released to date. The maturity we see (amazing to think he is only 25) shows Beirut's songs don't have to be big, flashy, over the top anthemic numbers and while some may miss that, it displays how Conden has grown and matured as a songwriter.

Ultimately The Rip Tide is the sound of Beirut. All the previous albums seem to have been building to this moment. The Rip Tide will show everyone that Beirut can stand on his own as one of the most unique, fresh and talented songwriters out there today. An album that will satisfy fans and will hopefully win over a whole lot more.


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