Matthew Irwin
Matthew Irwin is an arts writer and editor based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He writes for publications such as American Theatre Magzine, art ltd., the Austin Chronicle, Frieze Magazine, Hyperallergic and Magnet Magazine.
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The Riptide

As on previous albums by Beirut, the trumpet (and to a degree the ukulele) plays predominately on The Riptide, but here Zach Condon parts the notes to a greater degree with his voice. 

True, the pump organ and marching band brass come in heavy on the album opener, “A Candle’s Fire.” But then, Condon’s vocals take the drum major’s position, in a display of self-control, putting the song ahead of his performance. “Santa Fe” kicks in the synth rhythm for a hopelessly catchy hook, but, by “East Harlem,” the album opens up a bit, the trumpets punctuating Condon’s reliable, though reserved, vocals in a somewhat melancholy pianoman tune. 

“Goshen” introduces the second, more original, half of The Riptide. It’s a ballad that uses the trumpets and snare for an uplifting turn after lyrics pronouncing detachment: “You’re a face in stone / through the lens I own. / You never found it home. / you’re not the girl I used to know.” All this seems a set up for “Port of Call,” a wonderfully light and meandering closer, for which Condon pulls out all his favorite tools, still holding the post for complex, etheral new music that doesn’t rely on instruments that need electricity. 

Appears in JH Weekly.