By: Callum Leemkuil-Schuerman
From the beginning of their career, Beirut’s unique blend of mid-2000s indie pop sensibilities and French and Eastern European folk music immediately drew listeners in. Songs from their previous albums, like “Elephant Gun” and “Postcards from Italy,” are immediately charming and accessible, but still tap into sounds that no other indie bands were using at the time.
Although their early work still has substantial clout, Beirut has continued their largely enjoyable career—from the French pop of “The Flying Club Cup” to the electronic stylings of “Holland,” all the way to the straightforward indie of “The Rip Tide.”
Unfortunately, Beirut’s newest album, “Gallipoli,” is disappointing at best.
The problems begin with production. Early Beirut recordings favored a sepia-toned, nostalgic sound as if the listener is dropping the needle on a dusty antique record from somewhere in the Eastern Bloc. “Gallipoli” attempts to recapture this style of production, but ends up instead with an insubstantial, watery sound. The percussion is buried deep in the mix, while Condon’s vocals overpower everything else. Worse, the songwriting feels tired and limp. The lead single, “Gallipoli,” exemplifies all these problems—despite opening with an energetic horn section, the song quickly peters out into a poorly-paced and lethargic ballad that never quite gets off the ground. “Family Curse,” from later in the album, sounds like a pastiche of a Beirut song instead of the genuine article. It’s a disappointing showing from a normally solid band. Hopefully, their future releases attempt to move forward instead of backward.