Beirut, No No No - Album review

Download: At Once; August Holland

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The Independent Culture

While pleasant in places, there’s a lack of drive about Zach Condon’s latest outing as Beirut. The whimsical invention that made March of the Zapotec and The Rip Tide such quirky pleasures seems somewhat shrunk on No No No, something clear right from the first track, “Gibraltar”, where piano and hand percussion provides a stilted undercarriage for Zach Condon’s arch, strained vocal.

“No No No” itself starts out like a keyboard sequencer exercise, but develops a certain charm through the use of horns, establishing a format that recurs in various songs, where plonking piano parts are redeemed by brass arrangements or, in the case of “August Holland”, mellotron flute with strings and winds.

It’s not a new strategy: the lovely brass-band textures of “At Once” lend warmth to a schematic structure that recalls the Mexican funeral-band arrangements used on March of the Zapotec. The problem is that No No No suggests Condon’s been treading water ever since.