A confession: ‘The Rip Tide’ was my last Beirut album.

I’m not sure how I missed ‘No No No’ (so good they named it thrice) but…I did. Look. I’m sorry, okay? It wasn’t intentional, it just happened.

For the keenest of Zach Condon and co. fans, it’s been a few years since the Francophile Americans graced them with new music. For me, it’s been even longer (want to feel old? The Rip Tide came out in 2011. You’re welcome).

And so what a treat it was to press ‘play’ on ‘Gallipoli’ and feel almost as if the cohort knew that it had been a little old while. ‘When I Die’ starts proceedings and it feels like a reminder; a hello from an old friend. ‘This is who we are, this is how we sound, you remember us’. A gentle throwback to the sounds that I was used to, once upon a time.

We move to the title track and now I’m ready for it. To be swept along with brass and Condon’s delicious vocals, the exact contents of which I am not entirely sure of. I remember, as strain to pick up the lyrics, that although I think Condon’s voice is otherworldly magic – I can’t actually always make out what he’s saying.

But I think that’s okay. The whole album feels a little bit like a round the world in twelve songs journey and if Condon’s the guide then I think he would probably want there to be a sense of mystery about the whole affair. We move to the title track and suddenly I’m transported from winter weather warnings to the warmth of Europe – ‘Gallipoli’ makes me want to parade through cobbled streets with the band leading the way, just good music and a never-ending summer stretched ahead of me.

We move on. ‘To Varieties of Exile’ which feels like you’ve just stumbled in on your talented musical friends, trying to make something that sounds pretty (with wild success). Most of the human voice on the track is humming. I’m trying to avoid saying that it sounds ‘organic’ because that feels trite but it certainly doesn’t feel like forced humming. These are not the ‘lahs’ of a band hoping to appease a stadium show.

So much of this album is just music, with a scattering of entirely instrumental tracks. That isn’t to say that the lyrics aren’t at times incredibly lovely (the ones I can make out). “Love is like the oar/it takes us back to shore” in ‘Family Curs’e should probably be cliched and terrible but it simply isn’t. It’s lovely. But I don’t think lovely lyrics are the point of this album – Condon’s voice is an instrument. Sometimes it features, sometimes it doesn’t – it works, either way.

When I finished listening to ‘Gallipoli’, I felt a little like I’d come home (having gone round the world, in the process). They’d reminded me what it was I loved about them and added a little bit extra, for good measure. If you’ll excuse me, I should probably catch up on that album I missed so I can justify an End of the Road ticket.

Gallipoli – out February 1st 2019 (4AD)

You Tube


Former newspaper journalist who has started dabbling in radio. Just returned to Manchester after a stint away in the wilds of Cumbria and hoping to use this reviewing lark as a way to find some of the best music that this lovely city has to offer and meet some creative folks along the way. Find me on Twitter @callmesara