There are certain obvious influences for musicians currently in their twenties. They were probably first inspired by Britpop or The Pixies or something like that and have spent their career thus far trying to sound a bit like Radiohead. But there is strong evidence to suggest that Beirut frontman Zach Condon, rather than listening to Marquee Moon and hoping to one day be like Television, spent his childhood in Santa Fe listening to Eastern European and Balkan folk music and wanting to grow up to be like them instead. Which he has done. Kind of.





Before even listening to recent releases like their last full length album The Flying Club Cup or EPs March of the Zapotec and Holland, the album artwork of these present you with foreign images. The picture on the former appears to be from early 20th century Europe, and the cover of the latter features a tuba. How many children do you think jumped around their bedroom playing the air tuba? My point is that Beirut are already quite interesting because of their unusual influences and methods.

From previous releases we have come to expect from Beirut an interesting and rich sound, made possible by a wide array of instruments such as flugelhorn, violin, trumpet and Bouzouki, to name just a few of many used by them. This, in tandem with Condon’s voice, which is also a bit unusual, make a distinctive sound. While actually quite cool, his deep delivery isn’t always smooth, sometimes bearing a slight resemblance to a drunken slur.
The Rip Tide gets off to a promising start with “A Candle’s Fire”, a typical Beirut song with its various wind instruments. “Santa Fe” is also very good. These are followed by “East Harlem”, the first single which appeared in June and generated some excitement for the album, while seventh track “Vagabond” is a personal favourite.
Some of the other songs, such as “Goshen” and “The Peacock” show a more sombre side to Beirut, but all still feature the various instruments that add colour and life to the music.

The Rip Tide will appeal to fans of Beirut’s previous releases. Though it may have had some different influences, such as not being recorded in Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico, with help from the locals, like the March of the Zapotec EP, it’s still quite similar to much of their previous work. It will be released via Condon’s own label, Pompeii Records, which ensures the band have complete creative control by not including a major label. Rock on.

As I said earlier, Beirut’s diverse influences, many instruments, and the lack of any corporate overlords calling the shots help to make The Rip Tide an interesting listen. Of course, interesting doesn’t mean great, and The Rip Tide isn’t an amazing album, but it still stands out by sounding different to much of what we hear coming out of America. These are New Yorkers who look to far-away lands and long gone times for inspiration, mixing the exotic with the familiar, and making some decent music out of it. I think that they’re definitely worth a listen.