Beirut’s New Album, Gallipoli, Does Little to Stimulate the Senses

Gallipoli is the fifth full-length LP by Beirut, hailing from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The frontman and brainchild of the project is Zach Condon, who incorporates lots of diverse musical styles into his work, borrowing heavily from world music as well as more traditional indie rock instrumentation. Beirut are veterans of the U.S. indie scene, yet they seem to be mired more in the sounds of previous years than looking forward in their own work.

The production of this album is admittedly very tasteful, with an ethereal mood that lingers over the album and gives it an almost dream-like quality. This is most evident on the song ‘I Giardini’, where the production mixes wonderfully with the percussion, provided by Senegalese hand drums. There are some decent lyrical themes present within this album too. The opening track ‘When I Die’ includes some very thoughtful lyrics pertaining to death and remembrance, while the title track focuses on the same issues, as well as the idea of loneliness and separation.

Gallipoli’s main fault, and the area where it really falls short in my listening experience, is the constant idea in the back of your mind that you’ve heard these themes and musical styles before, only executed far more compellingly. The multitude of bombastic horns and brass sections throughout remind me greatly of Illinois era Sufjan Stevens, yet this album has nowhere near the personality and charisma that Illinois does. The vocals, while certainly pleasant, drift into boredom more often than not, and borrow heavily from the work of late 2000s indie bands, particularly the vocals of Grizzly Bear frontman Edward Droste. It seems more that Condon is simply treading water with the vocals than really blowing you away, and there is little genuine emotion to be found there. There are also several instrumental tracks on this album that unfortunately do little to perk up the album’s overall sluggish tempo, and they are too numerous to simply disregard. The lack of emotion present in this album is on full display here, as there are no vocals to distract you from some unremarkable and totally forgettable musicianship.

So while there are some decent lyrical themes in this album and the production is definitely impressive, this album does little more to command your attention or to wake you from the lull it unfortunately puts you into. It’s certainly not a bad album, but just disappointing, and in many ways that is almost worse.

Luke Anderson