ALBUM REVIEW: Beirut – No No No | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

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4AD

Released: 11.9.15

More information on Beirut’s official website

 

As you will find mentioned in almost every review of Beirut’s new album: this follow-up to Zach Condon’s previous album The Rip Tide arrives four years later, after a period of physical and emotional exhaustion that took its toll on the songwriter. Sometimes mentioning these kind of biographical details can seem tawdry or cheap, a voyeuristic way of making hay from someone else’s private troubles.

But given this information is there in the album announcement, given out to those of us writing about the record, it becomes unignorable – besides, if someone wishes to help to break down some of our absurd taboos, if someone wishes to communicate with us so directly and truthfully, how can we decently refuse?

This knowledge does also, as it happens, give us a useful entry point into what at first glance seems an alarmingly slight release. There will be enough here to please current Beirut fans certainly – less striped back than The Rip Tide but with even fewer of the Balkan influences of his early work, it cements Condon’s place in the post-Neutral Milk Hotel indie aesthetic, with some of the most interesting musical moves proving to be the most classicist (see the sixties lounge chords running through August Holland). Yet this incredibly short album offers little in the way of overt progression or surprise to those familiar to him.

What interests then – and yes, here’s where the moral of the story kicks in – is the heavy, contemplative ambivalence of the work. As the title slams home, there’s certainly enough negation here, but there’s a tear between keeping up the façade and letting it all out that feels far more honest and truthful than the ‘confessional’ singer-songwriter of cliché. Within the calmest of oceans lies depths, and within every storm lies the peaceful eye: it’s in refusing the absolute that Condon’s new work finds success.

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