Album Review: Beirut – No No No

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Beirut, the brainchild of Zack Condon, are the type of band to soundtrack certain ‘moments’ in time; the jazzy trumpets perhaps accompanying a hazy memory of a summer day, the serene violins capturing a reflective mood. The songs of Beirut seem to almost fit being played as a musical backdrop to a visual montage, and this is not to slight the talents of Condon and his bandmates, but rather, to celebrate the sheer versatility of the melodies hidden deep in the songs themselves. Much like the proverbial earworms, once you hear a Beirut track, it becomes especially difficult to find yourself not humming the tune during the day. Take No No No for example. Built around a chorus line which repeats the song’s title incessantly, what should be a rather forgettable song becomes fantastic due to the craftsmanship of the record. Repeated listens uncover new aspects; the way Condon croons the end of each line, the slightly off-kilter jazz beat of the drums, the subtle sounds of a keyboard playing. It truly is a great song, and encapsulates in three minutes all the essences that make Beirut unforgettable.

Pacheo begins with a 80’s synth line, before the sound of a harmonizing choir kicks the track into motion, Condon asking ‘How Long…’ over and over, desperately, almost-pleading to know the answer to an question that hangs in the air. Its follow up, Fener, sees Condon pick himself up, the instrumentation perky, breezy, a hint of change, none so more evident than in the way the song itself metamorphoses, dropping a register and becoming somewhat sorrowful in itself.  It is almost as if Condon is attempting to see the light, but is being restricted from fully-enclosing himself within the warmth. No No No is the culmination of a tumultuous four years for Condon, emotionally and physically, and this is reflected in the composition of these tracks.

At 9 tracks and just shy of the 30 minute mark, No No No breezes along, the tempo of the tracks varied just enough to warrant a short tracklisting, and interesting enough to warrant repeated listens. It is likely that given time and appreciation, the tracks comprising No No No will soon be the latest earworms of the listener.

Joe Sweeting