BEIRUT play the Phoenix tonight (Thursday, August 4). See listing Rating: NNN
The Rip Tide is Beirut's most accessible album to date, which is its greatest strength and greatest weakness. The fact that main man Zach Condon isn't as focused this time on cramming in references to Balkan folk music makes it feel more authentic and less contrived but at the same time a little less interesting. While the ornate arrangements are just as lovely as ever, they also sound more conventionally poppy, which may put off fans more enamoured of his indie world beat ideas.
Alleviating some of the preciousness he's been accused of, The Rip Tide is Condon's most cheerful recording to date. The songs are all quite pretty and carefully assembled, the products of obvious care in the recording process. Unfortunately, it all feels a bit too manicured and restrained. As easy as it is to hit repeat when the disc ends, trying to remember standout moments is another story. It's a solid album, but too conservative to make many converts.
Top track: Payne's Bay