Wednesday, July 13, 2016


American indie rock band, Beirut, started out as a solo project by Zach Condon, and later became a band that has found popularity around the world, especially for their most popular songs "Nantes" and "A Sunday Smile." With their wide range of instruments including guitar, violin, accordion, mandolin, ukulele and drums, they combine indie rock and world music in Balkan-inspired upbeat songs; it’s creepy and wholesome simultaneously, often F. Scott Fitzgerald, often Kafka. So far, Beirut has released four albums: Gulag Orkestar in 2006 (named after places he'd never been and a county with which he has no affiliation), The Flying Club Cup in 2007 and The Rip Tide in 2011. On May 28 they promoted their latest release, No No No at KüçükÇiflik Park in Istanbul. Kinda weird that Condon's American sensibilities led him to Eastern Europe following roots he doesn't have. And how about the name, Beirut?  According to Condon, merely a synonym in his mind for "chaos." This is certainly not for everyone; indeed your mother may like it more than your friends. To me it's like watching a Fred Astaire musical; magical and from a different world.

No, No, No, by the way, is no Gulag Orkestar.  Don't let that turn you away. There is a lack of the more interesting instruments Beirut is known for, in favor of more of typical instruments such as piano and synth., but all of the wit is there and many of the tracks are gorgeous piano-based songs with the expected atypical time signatures/rhythms, each nicely crooned. The title track "No No No" sounds like an electronic companion to The Rip Tides, "East Harlem." Condon's gift of lyricism, rhythm and melody has matured to create a balanced, infectious collection of songs that is way too short at 30 minutes. When it ends, it seems too quick and you long for it to go on (and on).