The nine-track listening experience of Beirut’s late summer, moderately anticipated album is better than the title The Rip Tide suggests. It’s the ideal album for a train ride, or any ride, for that matter. Drive, allow thoughts to trail off with the scenery or nod into dreamland.


The Rip Tide
Pompeii Records

The simultaneously baby-faced and sexy New Mexico native Zachary Francis Condon has led the six-person, rotating lineup to worldwide alternative success for the past six years. As The Rip Tide keeps its leisurely distance from the Eastern European, gypsy-rooted sound of the band’s debut record, Gulag Orkestar, our ears are left vaguely missing the spice of past worldliness.

The Rip Tide is not the most exciting album to peek its indie crown out of the studio, as some of the tracks can blend together in a whirlwind of horns — but it’s still a complex and goosebump-inducing product. Although drawing less from his Balkan influences and now nestling somewhere into American pop, Condon manages to generate a sound that is undeniably his creation, and it’s a simple beauty. For his third LP, Condon has complete recording rights of The Rip Tide under Pompeii Records, which he founded this year.

Lead single “East Harlem” strikes at the album’s reverent cord. Aside from this expected leader of the pack, “Goshen” and title track “The Rip Tide” reach a level of intimate, calming ear candy like the best-flavored Chamomile tea around.

“Santa Fe” lifts the album out of its solemn persona. On this refreshing track, with a beat pleasantly easy to pick up on, Condon’s voice is deeply brewed as he delivers, “Your days in one / This day undone / The kind that breaks under / All day at once / For me, for you / I’m just too young.” The tender lyrics of “Santa Fe” abstractly relate to the young man’s experience in his hometown.

In an interview with Time Entertainment, the 25-year-old Condon said, “As a teenager I felt like everything I experienced wasn’t very relatable or exciting. So I developed this sort of wanderlust as I tried to find my own identity.”

It seems he has always had an aching to try on music from other cultures, but on his junior effort the sound is more self-pronounced and impactful as he breaks away from his world-music-guy stereotype.

If there’s one complaint about The Rip Tide, it’s that it’s too accessible. On tracks like “The Peacock” and “A Candle’s Fire,” it is easy to passively accept the instruments’ sway. Risk has been left untouched here.

Take The Rip Tide in with welcoming arms as a staple food to save for the storm, for when you need that calming sanctuary. But have no worries, Condon is still the same charming, ukulele man-boy.

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