Album Reviews

Beirut – Gallipoli – Album Review

Beirut – Gallipoli – Album Review by M. Quinn

Released – February 1st 2019

The album opens with a banjo and a distant trumpet and we know we are immediately on familiar territory. This is Zach Condon’s fifth studio album and comes 4 years after No No No (released in 2015). He’s not a man to rush a new release, but they are albums to be savoured by his fans. The album features the usual mix of sounds, but also the return of the Farfisa organ, which featured on his first two albums (2006’s Gulag Orkestar and 2007’s The Flying Club Cup).

The title track Gallipoli opens with a muffled organ/ synth sound before a trumpet chorus and drum adds to the mix. The joyous procession then drifts into the background as the vocals are added. Varieties of Exile has a quieter sound, with the vocals dominating the early part of the song. The sound builds into something slightly funkier than you would expect. On Mainau Island is one of the briefer tracks, an instrumental that is dominated by the organ sound, swirling off into the cosmos. Gauze für Zah is the longest song on the album, breaking the six minute barrier! It’s a mix of piano, drums and vocals that feel warm and lush.

“We tell tales to belong
Or be spared the sorrow
You’re so fair to behold
What will be left when you’re gone?” – Gallipoli

Corfu is another highlight, if all too brief at under three minutes, an instrumental track with organ, drums and guitar that will have your head nodding. Landslide is the second single off the album and opens with a strong organ sound before adding vocals to the foreground for this up tempo number. Family Curse uses a drum machine and then adds trumpet, vocals and organ sounds, for a quite unusual dreamy sound within the album. Light in the Atoll is another highlight, with lost vocals and wonderful layering of sound. The final track is unsurprisingly called Fin and is another brief and soporific song to close out proceedings.

“There’s a landslide back on
Pity I can’t hold on
I should really behold
My world washed clear past on” – Landslide

From the opening moments, we’re very much at home with this album. Fans of his work will be happy with what they hear. The four year gap will mean there are few that are annoyed with any perceived lack of growth, or accusations of travelling over familiar ground. The mix of instruments he uses is quite unique and they do have a very particular sound. The lyrics are somewhat lost, and you have to concentrate to pick out anything specific. Whether this is intentional or just in the mix, his voice is almost like another instrument. It’s an album that you’ll come back to, to enjoy for many months ahead!

Track List –

1. When I Die 03:17
2. Gallipoli 04:09
3. Varieties of Exile 05:28
4. On Mainau Island 02:13
5. I Giardini 03:44
6. Gauze für Zah 06:05
7. Corfu 02:36
8. Landslide 03:31
9. Family Curse 03:23
10. Light in the Atoll 04:00
11. We Never Lived Here 04:12
12. Fin 02:04

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Categories: Album Reviews, Best Albums, Header, Music

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