Artist of the week: Beirut
This may sound odd today, but back in the mid-aughties, Zach Condon was regarded as a musician as influent and talented as the likes of Jeff Mangum, Sufjan Stevens or Conor Oberst. Though time has not been that kind to Beirut’s musical legacy, it is undeniable that records like 2006’s Gulag Orkestar and 2007’s Lon Gisland EP showcased a surprising fusion of Balkan and Gypsy music with mournful indie folk and low-fi experimentation. Even more surprising was the fact that all was pretty much composed, sang and performed (accordion, keyboards, saxophone, clarinet, mandolin, ukulele, horns, glockenspiel, and percussion) by Condon alone, which turned him into some kind of mysterious and exotic musical prodigy. Even if 2007’s The Flying Club Cup and 2011’s Rip Tide were fine LPs, both of them failed to bring something truly new and exciting to his music, which was a real shame considering the promising electronic landscapes he explored in the double EP March of the Zapotec / Holland.
After a four-year hiatus that represented a period of turmoil in Condon’s life (facing a divorce and having been admitted into a hospital in Australia for exhaustion due to extensive touring), Beirut is finally back with No No No, his fourth and kind of unexpected LP. It is simultaneously a steady, thoughtful and upswing affair, loosely executed, but lyrically focused: a feel-good and bright record whose arrival can only be greeted by what has been so far a quite serious and heavy-toned 2015.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.