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Friday, August 5, 2011

Beirut: The Rip Tide (Digital Release Date: 8-2-2011/Physical Release Date: 8-30-2011)

        Thank you, Beirut, for making this One easy on me. With the time that the band is saving me in reviewing their new album, The Rip Tide, I could do a variety of things: Clean my room, drink a beer, listen to The Rip Tide another time... the world is my oyster. I'm not really feeling the need to beat around the bush on the issue, because Beirut isn't either. Opening track A Candle's Flame introduces the disc with the sound of an accordion, shortly followed by a brass section and crisply repeating drum roll. Soon, frontman Zach Condon's signature croon, as vibrato-heavy as always, joins the fun, and it becomes readily evident that TRT is a Beirut album in the same sense that every Beirut album is a Beirut album. Maybe I should say Beirut album Two more times... Beirut album.

        In the name of full disclosure, I'm not as devoted to the band as some people are, so I admit there's a chance that I'm missing more subtle aspects to the band's growth. Santa Fe makes some fun use out of Casio-esque keyboards, but that doesn't strike me as so different from The Flying Club Cup's Nantes. Nor does the gentle, warming rumble of lead single East Harlem really break any new ground, but it doesn't have to. The song, much like each of its Eight album mates, is a gorgeous number that might really turn heads if we hadn't heard the same band doing the same thing for the last Five Plus years. The consistency of their tracks simply must be commended: Payne's Bay is stuffed with soaring harmonies, Goshen fills the piano ballad slot convincingly, and The Rip Tide is a sweeping, romantic number that might just serve as the album's best.

        I could tell you about the last Three tracks as well, but it's mostly just more of the same; winning tunes that sound perfectly familiar mid-first listen. And... well... yeah, that's about all that I have to say. The Rip Tide is both One of the year's most consistently enjoyable albums, and One of its least groundbreaking. If you're not a fan of the band's sound, there's virtually no chance that this is going to win you over, and if you are, I can just about promise you that you won't be disappointed. So, when I give my grade, I am essentially grading my liking of the band as a whole. If you would give their career up to this point a higher score, then you'll probably like their newest more as well. The Rip Tide is a really good, never great album from start to finish... now, onto room cleaning.

Grade: B

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