If, for some abstract reason, you follow my reviews on this blog you’ll know that I apply the concept “regression to the mean” to just about everything. Folks, I’ve found another case with Beirut’s new LP No No No.
I’ve always really enjoyed Beirut’s music. Front man Zach Condon has always drawn from exceptionally hip sources to influence his writing from Eastern European folk music to a full, Mexican brass band.
Condon’s compositions are habitually repetitive and layered and No No No is no outlier. However, this time Condon seems to have drawn from the pop idiom as an influence. It’s certainly not a bad thing; all the tracks are catchy and easy to listen to. The vanilla harmonic structure leaves the ear wanting more; and especially when the record ends at an abrupt 29 minutes.
I was a little disappointed at the lack of horn usage, but Condon picked up the slack with the addition of buttery strings and just a smidgen of synth to spice things up a little.
There are plenty of things that catch the ear, but you really have to listen for them. They don’t necessarily slap you in the face. That being said, track nine, “Fener,” has a metric modulation right in the middle that totally takes you off guard. If I’m speaking above your head that means there was a time change, or the pace or tempo changed. I was tapping my foot like a crazy person to see if it was a hip polyrhythm superimposed onto the first part but I couldn’t discern anything. Or maybe I’m not hip enough…
All in all, No No No is a good record and I’d recommend it. But without sounding too passé, I’m more of a fan of Beirut’s earlier work. Especially if you really want to capture the true essence of their sound.
Devan is a DJ on KSSU