Album Review: Beirut - Gallipoli

31 January 2019 | 4:43 pm | Tim Kroenert

"There are several refrains here that you will be humming for days."

More Beirut More Beirut

Jingoistic mob that we are, Australian audiences will read the title of Beirut’s latest album and immediately think of World War I diggers on a Turkish beach. In fact, the band’s well-travelled mastermind Zach Condon has an altogether different Gallipoli in mind, a late medieval coastal city in Sicily, where Condon and co "followed a a brass band procession fronted by priests carrying a statue of the town’s saint". The moment is the stuff of instant mythology, and permeates the album, whose gestation also included stints in New York and Berlin, where Condon now lives, having made a more-permanent move after he broke his arm in a skateboarding accident. 

Musically, the album is more or less what we’ve come to expect from Beirut: accessible indie-pop expanded by Condon’s borrowings from world music and the odd aural experiment – special mention to the instrumental On Mainau Island, named for a German garden island, which is like European chamber music exquisitely ruined by a keyboard’s shrieking, broken arpeggios. The result is a collection of songs that are classic, but freshened by new experiences and perspectives. One always gets the impression Condon can write a melody in his sleep, and there are several refrains here that you will be humming for days, notably from opening track When I Die, and the gorgeous, brassy title song.