Beirut Gallipoli 4AD
Four records into Zach Condon’s career as Beirut, there’s a sense that you can divide it neatly. The first two albums were the ones in thrall to other cultures. Gulag Orkestar channelled Baltic folk, whilst its 2007 follow-up, The Flying Club Cup, was a love letter to France.
The split happened there. Both 2011’s The Rip Tide and 2015’s No No No toned down the wanderlust and instead focused on the songcraft, with sparser arrangements and more oblique subject matter. In interviews to promote that last LP, Condon spoke of insomnia, burning out and chronic writer’s block. A fifth Beirut full-length was never assured.
It’s here, though, and Gallipoli is the record that bridges the gap. Condon is still tapping into the same creative vein as in the last two albums: melody first, everything else second. But the leitmotifs of his early work, the things that the casual listener most closely associates with him, return. When I Die and Varieties of Exile are flecked with ukelele, whilst the sumptuous title track swells with brass. It’s occasionally scattershot, but Gallipoli provides clear evidence that Condon has married past and present, locking back into a creative groove.