Beirut are one of those phenomenal music industry finds who have remained ruthlessly independent throughout their career so far. With two critically acclaimed albums already under their belt, the band release their latest offering, The Riptide, through their own label, Pompeii Records, later this month.
Exploring the full range of human emotion on the backdrop of whimsical stories spreading as far geographically as ‘East Harlem’ and ‘Santa Fe’, The Riptide is interesting, folky and orchestral; three things we’ve come to expect quite automatically from the wondrous Beirut. The vocals continue to impress and astound, and the arrangements are beautiful, imaginative and intense. This is an album that will sit well with the myriad of people buying Mumford & Sons records and wishing they could live their life in a Benjamin Francis Leftwich song, but it offers something different; something more accomplished and something more creative. It’s the influence of world music that really makes this album stand out from whatever folk related scene is currently talk of the town.
The Riptide certainly doesn’t disappoint, but its main issue is that it doesn’t surprise enough either. Where previous Beirut albums were explicit in their eclectic influences, I feel like this record leans far more towards the pop spectrum, and it’s a move that I find myself questioning. This is a perfectly brilliant third offering from a band that deserve both their success and their independence – it just seems to lack that ultra-impressive album-to-album development that so many components from the UK folk scene seem to be demonstrating. Considering the haste at which artists like Noah and the Whale and Laura Marling are releasing LPs these days, I expected slightly more from Beirut for an album four years in the making…
Words by Lauren Razavi
‘The Riptide’ is out on 29th August (UK) and 30th August (US) through Pompeii