Beirut: The Rip Tide

Beirut's latest offering delivers some great tunes, but doesn't shine as brightly as previous efforts.

Beirut

The Rip Tide

(Pompeii Records)

***

When Zach Condon put out his first Beirut album, he probably didn't think everything afterward would be compared to it. He was, after all, a high-school dropout, (he later went on to college) a solo artist and only 19. Six years later, Condon has achieved modest fame and attracted a loyal following for his Balkan-influenced sound. His now seven-piece band still has what made the debut great: jangly jingles, hefty oom-pahs and Condon's boyish vibrato croon. But the new album sounds like a watered-down version of the once awe-inducing band. And while the new, more pop-influenced sound might make them stand out from other pop acts, it brings them further away from their origin. Though, to say that this is their worst album yet would be an injustice. None of their albums could be called anything close to "bad". This is a band of real musicians who obviously play well together. And there are still some great tunes here: Santa Fe, with its keyboarded drum beats, trademark swells and a beautifully catchy hook is one of the standouts. Hopefully, this flirtation with pop is either a short-lived experiment or a step toward something even more magical than what they've achieved so far.

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Published: August 17, 2011 04:00 AM

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