Customer Reviews: The Rip Tide
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on September 26, 2011
Finally, after confusing people with the March of the Zapotec double EP, Beirut has released their third, concrete album. The Rip Tide is decidedly in the same vein as the previous two LPs, and that is what's wonderful about it. After experimenting with French and Latin influences, Zach Condon has taken further Balkan cues from his debut, Gulag Orkestar.

Gulag is the strongest album Condon has recorded; however, Rip Tide matches the quality of Flying Club Cup (#2). Once more, listeners feel as though they're on a hundred-year-old train, traveling to some long-forgotten old town. There are more upbeat songs here compared to previous tracks, particularly on 'Santa Fe', 'East Harlem', and 'Vagabond'. There is also a wonderful throwback in 'Payne's Bay' to Condon's first recording on an EP entitled The Joys of Losing Weight.

Although some have disregarded this track, a highlight of the album is 'The Peacock'. It carries that familiar, melancholic tune that Condon has conjured up on tracks like 'Postcards from Italy' and 'On A Bayonet'. It is buried at the end of the LP, and has consequently become my favorite track of mid-2011.

On an anecdotal side note that the Amazon universe seems to love: I just saw these guys perform tonight. They are, honestly, a great band. They are shockingly good at getting to the heart of nostalgic, melancholic music. Get Gulag, get this, get everything in between and you will, most likely, feel 100x more human than your office cubicle lets you.
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on August 31, 2011
Beirut's The Rip Tide is a wonderful album. The songs flow nicely, the lyrics are accompanied by wonderful melodies. Some may complain about the length of the album relative to Beirut's previous albums, but it seems they were focused on releasing and album full of equally great songs, there are no fillers here.

As for the vinyl packaging, it is the best I've seen all year. It is simple, yet fantastic. The record's outer sleeve is thick and sturdy, it is reminiscent of my old, high-fidelity classical records. It is also bound in cloth, adding to the quality of the sleeve. The inner sleeve is a thick, and of high quality plastic. This is one of the few records I opened and put directly on my turntable without having to thoroughly clean. A few specks of dust here and there, but I'm not complaining.

The physical and musical quality of this release is magnificent. One of the better albums of the year, and one of the highest quality packaging I've seen in a while.
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on September 13, 2011
There is no mistaking the joyous, percolating melodies of Beruit. The band's songs (primarily the creations of Zach Condon) have been described as pop music with a worldly feel since the songs often feature the sounds of other countries and cultures. But Condon isn't just showing off his vast array of influences and tastes. Instead he is marrying them to decidedly American musical genres such as indie-rock to create something unique and meaningful: music that is vibrant and catchy and succeeds in taking you around the world even though you might not be aware it's happening.

The group's latest offering is a tightly focused collection of wide-eyed pop that shows major growth from 2007's "The Flying Club Cup". Songs such as "Santa Fe" and "East Harlem" burst with melodic richness and a sense of joy and wonder that can only be conveyed by the best pop music. Yet there is more than just ear candy on display here. Condon's lyrics display an insightfulness that belies his young age and repeated listens reveal new shadings to the compositions collected here. This is music for the head, the heart and the ears.

Granted, I wish the album had been stretched out just a little bit further. But I would rather have too little of a very good thing than too much of mere mediocrity. Condon is well aware of this and wisely leaves listeners wanting more. If "The Riptide" is any indication, there will be plenty more to come.
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on November 7, 2011
The settings feel synthesized from modular instrumental parts in a rickety way that is endearing, each a little different. Think a village or Salvation Army band playing the arrangements of a quirky experimenter. Some settings are quite complex and intricate, unfolding carefully through a song. Vocals are uniformly warm, mellow, and welcoming. Tim Buckley meets Rufus Wainwright. The lead singer sounds old-fashioned, crooning in tawny tones, but always with a cool edge that keeps us in the 2010s. Tension builds among the rickety settings, warm vocals, and power pop temper of the whole undertaking. Fun, quietly content in a warm, comfortable way that is always a bit askew. Haven't chosen favorites yet; all tracks are strong.

1. A candle's fire. Lonely, quiet field organ, then full brass fanfare. Steady, sturdy, earnest mid-tempo pop. Warm lead male vocal practically glows a low, tawny gold. Each bit stands carefully apart, but each is clearly part of an intricate design--will it hold together or stumble into a pile? Fun watching.
2. Santa Fe. Perky power pop straight from c. 1980. Up-tempo pepperminty pulse. Languid vocal lines flowing behind. Hyper-bright trumpets joined later by a rickety carnival organ sampled in above over bridges. Engaging tensions.
3. East Harlem. Wah-wahing field organ opens. Warm, mellow, languid vocal pop unfolds, tempered by shiny sampled brass and a pulse sprinkled along like a long, mid-tempo picket fence in keyboards.
4. Goshen. Warm simple keyboard paired with warmly crooning vocals in a calm comfort song, a warm memory or reverie. All quiet and meditative. And then the tacky trumpets. And earnest snare drums. Wonderful!
5. Payne's Bay. Squealing synthesized fiddles--or is it a field organ? A gently rolling pop song from the early 1960s (like Burt Bacharach?) emerges. Now the synthesizer is pumping trumpets and other brass in a steady Salvation Army march tempo with metrically splashing cymbals. The marchers chant "Head strong" on and on.
6. The rip tide. Quietly epic portrait of a lonely, windswept beach with cliffs shedding shattered shale close ashore. In brass and piano. Then piano+vocal. Quiet, steady, and reassuring, but laced with reserved melancholy. Brass returns. On and on. The song turns slowly on long, long cycles like the tide.
7. Vagabond. Quietly perky piano, then brass, in light syncopation, brings Herb Alpert to mind. As the setting cha-chas along, the warm, soothing vocal enters in slow lines. Brass takes up the calm lines. Keyboard does a bit of Baroque arpeggio exercise. The texture builds in layers.
8. The peacock. Vocal takes center stage with a simple setting of pump organ and brass swathing him. Do I hear Tim Buckley near by?!
9. Port of call. Simple strummed guitar. Add forthright, warm vocal. As usual, the guitar sets the pulse; the vocal flows slowly, steady, in smooth lines. Add tightly cycling (seemingly strummed) piano. And of course brass, but now in an oompahing ¾-time counter rhythm, which rolls over into the piano. Quite a set piece of development.
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on December 29, 2015
I wish I was a better writer, since I'd actually have something substantive about this album to say. But, unfortunately, I was not blessed with an expansive vocabulary, so all I can say is that this is one of my favorite albums.
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on February 9, 2012
First, I want to thank for including The Rip Tide in its best of 2011 list, thereby introducing me to this wonderful talent (Zach Condon). I liked The Rip Tide so much I bought his two previous albums: Gulag Orkestar (2006) and The Flying Club Cup (2007); both are very good. If you enjoy heartbreakingly beautiful pop music (reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens's Illinoise), you owe it to yourself to hear this album, which is a delight from start to finish. I had to look up the lyrics so I could sing along with my favorite track "Port of Call". Thank you, Zach, for putting so much beauty out in the world. Easily my favorite album of 2011.
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on January 8, 2012
If you've been following the development of Zach Condon, this album demonstrates how a prodigy is maturing into a musician for the ages. If you haven't, treat yourself to a revelation and get this album.

Every previous Beirut album has been a celebration of musical cultural infusion and The Rip Tide is no different--just more refined and haunting. The title track is by far the most memorable song for me of 2011. Condon's infusion of musical inspirations, the well-selected harmonies, and the musicianship of Beirut combine to make for an incredible aural journey. I only wish there had been a bit more of it.
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on May 27, 2012
This is such a beautiful collection of songs. There is a triumphant sadness that ebbs and flows throughout the songs thanks to the excellent use of brass. Makes me want to sit on the beach with a picnic for one. Or two, but at least one.
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on October 3, 2011
This has rapidly turned into one of, if not my favourite album of the year so far. It is a special, special piece of work that is uplifting and thoughtful, tuneful and captivating. I first heard this in Rough Trade East in London and it stopped me in my tracks. Its pace and control are beautiful, a magic collection of songs that deserve listen after proper listen.
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VINE VOICEon September 6, 2011
Was never much interested in Beirut after reading reviews, but a friend convinced me that this was worth me checking, and wow was he right. Fantastically original and unique instrumentation and arrangement for an 'indie rock' band, nice melodies and what sound like on first few listens to be very good introspective lyrics. As a point of reference I guess I'd say it would be kind of like the National meets Arcade Fire but throwing in some chamber music instruments, but that's really not totally accurate, it's more original than that, but if you like either of those bands I'd find it hard to imagine you not liking Beirut! Going to have to hit the back catalog now!!
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