Album: Beirut, The Rip Tide (Pompeii)

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The Independent Culture

On 2009's March of the Zapotec, the Beirut mainman Zach Condon split his output between Mexican funeral-band brass music and a rather tired form of electropop.

Thankfully, he's ditched the latter and developed the former interest into a more mature crossover style in which accordion, pump organ and down-at-heel horns combine in ways that bring to mind Sufjan Stevens. On "A Candle's Fire", the horns lend the air of a budget triumphal procession, while the charm of "Santa Fe" offers an infectiously whimsical evocation of Condon's home territory. The title-track, meanwhile, has the gauche but homely bonhomie of a small-town carnival float with a squeaky wheel, with cello and horns suspended around a central core of piano. The engaging mood is further enhanced by Condon's baffling but beautiful lyrics.

DOWNLOAD THIS: A Candle's Fire; Santa Fe; Payne's Bay; Vagabond