Released August 30, 2011 on Revolver
To say that I have taken to falling asleep on the VIA bus while listening to Zach Condon's latest effort as Beirut is not necessarily the biggest compliment- on face. There is, however, something distinguishing about this Beirut album which is revealed by my tendency to doze to it. Namely; the fertile chaos, that gave past Beirut releases such an irresistible free-wheeling spirit, is neatly managed here. All the edges of Condon's genius, which has been called Beirut since before he was old enough to drink, are smoothed out into a kind of patient old world perfection. Songs like "A Candle's Fire", "East Harlem" and "Vagabond" are beautiful and subtle and refined, but are missing what Bob Dylan once called (in his own music) "that wild mercury sound". This is where it gets tricky. The Rip Tide shows growth and maturity- these songs are technically smarter, tighter and more precise than most of Beirut's previous tracks. And yet, they are somehow less gratifying; more comfortable and less gigantic. The songs flow and slink gracefully along through the caverns of your listening mind, rather than gyrating and bashing about with the particularly exhilarating wantonness of youth on fire with the power of creation. All critical observations aside; The Rip Tide is wonderful and intricate and deserving of your attention. Whether you are a devoted fan or an intrigued newcomer, this offering is a rewarding listen; dark and spacious, feeling wooden and musty, impossible to place in space and time- thoughtful in the meticulous way one might consider Marcel Proust or Charles Dickens thoughtful. The Rip Tide is, at its core, the work of an extremely gifted and original artist learning to do consciously what was once done in unconscious bursts.