Beirut: Gallipoli (4AD) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jan 29, 2019 Beirut Bookmark and Share

The test of a good Beirut song: Does it move you to tears and inexplicably so? “Gallipoli,” the first single from Zach Condon’s latest, passes the litmus in its first three bars. Like “Elephant Gun” and “The Rip Tide,” standouts from Beirut’s patina-stained oeuvre that can involuntarily overcome the most stoic with brass and a mournful cadence, his first words here: “We tell tales to be known,” ring like a credo. It quickly reveals an album with fully formed ideas of mortality, memory, and misgivings drawn from a palpable emotional core, largely absent from amenable last LP, 2015’s No No No.

Opener “When I Die” achieves the same effect. It grapples with death and impermanence as the ebb and swell of horns clutch at our hearts. Without devolving into pathos, Condon assures: “Don’t cry/I promise that I’ll get it right/I’ve been practicing my whole life.”

The ukulele-led “Varieties of Exile” then pares it all back. Bearing the recurring motif of things coming to an end, it employs the plaintive mode of “The Rip Tide” with sparse electronic flourishes. The piano leitmotif of “I Giardini” echoes “C’est Le Vent, Betty” from the French film Betty Blue. It aligns the film’s theme-an intense love affair’s untimely end-to perhaps Condon’s own affairs of the heart. “Landslide” gives us another piece to the puzzle of his self-exile in Berlin.

The appeal of making music like a vagabond traversing continents, once on the wane, now appears back. From Gallipoli‘s nascence in Upstate New York in 2016, when Condon’s old Farfisa organ (acquired from the art house cinema he worked at as a teenager and featured heavily on 2006’s Gulag Okestar) was shipped from his parent’s Santa Fe home, to demos fleshed out with band mates, in a Puglia studio, in Southern Italy. Lyrics were written in solitude upon his return to Berlin, where he now resides.

Gallipoli is swooningly gorgeous and rich with offerings we’ve come to love about Condon: His weakness for exotic cities as song titles, a romance with cultures of antiquity, the combination of organ and brass fanfare, an exceptional sense for melody, and an ever-full heart. Three well-placed instrumentals punctuate and act as palate cleansers. Nowhere is this sugary, overly ornate, or maudlin: An excellent return to form. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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February 1st 2019

Thank you for the gushing unabashed and swooning review; it certainly is spurring this one-time BEIRUT fan to go listen. And thank you for the credo-bellringing words Mortality Memory And Misgivings and An Ever-Full Heart.