Beirut, the Baltic folk indie sensation, is back with a new album, and leader Zach Condon has taken it back to the basics. The Rip Tide is the band’s third studio album. After the release of the double-EP March of the Zapotec/Realpeople – Holland, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the band. With that album, especially the latter EP, I wasn’t sure if I should be expecting synth-pop or more amazing folk music. Thankfully they chose to go less for Realpeople and more for Beirut.
Like most Beirut albums, the runtime is under 40 minutes and leaves you wanting more. One track, “Sante Fe”, incorporates a synthesizer, but it is not to excess. Again, it’s nothing like the Realpeople – Holland EP*. Others, however, rely more on strong and sometimes prominent drum beat to give the songs their groove. Tracks like “East Harlem”, “A Candle’s Fire” and “Vagabond” exude that feeling that is uniquely Beirut.
It’s reliance on brass is something to be expected, and is not overbearing at all. The title track has a very smooth and soothing brass accompaniment along with Condon’s unique voice and double tracked vocals (Condon plays his own background singer, which is something I can admire). Other instruments to look out for would be the chord organ – an instrument I adore – in “A Candle’s Fire” and the pump organ in “The Peacock” and “East Harlem”. The track “Payne’s Bay”, with its violin intro and brass, leaves you with a pleasant mood when finished.
But, the winner this time around has to go to the track “East Harlem”. With its catch beat and repetitive lyrics, it is just a simple track to sit back and hum to. The album as a whole is a simple treat and a piece of work that most Beirut fans have come to expect as the gold standard. If you’re looking for an album that is elegant that you would like to use as background music to your relaxation time, I would suggest this one. There’s nothing hard about this album; it’s as smooth a 1,000 mile train ride from uptown to downtown, if I can quote “East Harlem”.
I give this album a 4/5 star rating.