Album Review: Beirut – Gallipoli

At its best, Beirut feels like music made for the wandering, for the vagabonds who lead a carefree, nomadic lifestyle roaming the narrow streets of a city rich in beauty and history. With European gypsy influences and an air of triumph from his signature brass soaked soundscapes, Zach Condon continues to hone in on his craft with Gallipoli. While the wheel is certainly not re-invented here, we can revel in the baroque inspired sounds of Beirut that we initially fell in love with over a decade ago.

When I Die is a majestic start to the record with its soaring horns and warm vocals. Sonically, this track is a highlight, showcasing the ingenuity recognized in Zach Condon during his emerging years, and his ability to transport us to a beautiful place through music. Gallipoli, also reminiscent of the worldly clash of sounds that captivated our attention in the first place, perhaps because of the return of the organ, renders sorrowful yet celebratory sentiments associated with Condon’s artistry.

Charming and just plain delightful, Varieties Of Exile plays with the ukulele and accordion to accompany Condon’s aerial vocals. I Giardini has an island feel in its drumming that makes for a fetching beat. Gauze Für Zah is also fairly catchy and lighthearted, of course not without a hint of gloom within the dreamy synth action at the end. Family Curse uniquely combines synths, strings, and Condon’s famous organ, which makes for a gorgeous union.

At first, Light In The Atoll sounds like a whimsical song in an opening scene of an old action movie, and then abruptly develops into a really lovely, sophisticated melody. There are many experimental instrumentals like On Mainu Island, Corfu, and Fin that, while aren’t completely fitting, are more so a display of Zach exploring sounds in the studio.

Illuminated with warm textures and a sense of mystique, Gallipoli comforts us with Condon’s soothing vibrato and the familiar instrumentals distinct to Beirut. It’s a return to the classics that seems to have awakened a sense of passion and inspiration in Condon that certainly wasn’t present in the last album. While it will always be difficult to top Beirut’s Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup, the fact that this record resembles what we know and love is a treat in itself.

Julia Kwan