6 Oct

Beirut (Zachary Condon) has been my obsession lately. I recently purchased Gulag Orkestar and I am completely and utterly impressed. The album has been the best I’ve heard since Romance is Boring. It’s filled with complex composition, virtuoso trumpeting, and a dirty, drunken, gypsy orchestra feeling. It conjures images of the Mediterranean coast, The hills of Ireland, and abandoned factory towns in Romania.

The single from the album is certainly “Postcards from Italy.” With a folksy and Distinctly European tone Condon’s beautiful vibrato rings and can only help but pierce the most callused mans heart. The lyrics tragically describe a fading romance with a true love left in Italy; it’s melancholy, and indirectly but purposefully speaks to the inevitable heartbreak that every human being experiences.

It is impossible to mention Beirut without giving at least some mention to Condon’s multi-instrument prowess. He is featured on trumpet, ukulele , synth, and vocals. What makes Condon’s story particularly impressive is his lack of traditional education, musical or otherwise. As a teenager Condon dropped out of four universities and a high school. His musical experience included a brief stint in the high school Jazz band, and he knew only fractured Portuguese. Condon spent a significant amount of time in Europe, fully immersed in the culture of both the European elite, and the nomadic gypsies. It is from these experiences that Condon draws a majority of his musical inspiration from.

To wrap up the album I must finally give praise to my favorite song, “Scenic World.” The song is unfairly short at two minutes eight seconds, but never could I have believed that so much musical emotion could be pent-up in an absolutely fleeting moment. I must admit that the song drove me to tears. The lyrical value is abstract enough to have universal meaning, yet contains diction so perfectly sensible, sharp like daggers, soft like a blanket, wet like a stream. It is perfect. Mournful. Melancholy. Hopeful. The song tells of a cry for understanding, a fear of both the known and unknown. A rational fear of one’s self. A plea for a better world, a non-existent world. A life perfect, free from pain, free from the torment of other human beings. It pulls at your heartstrings, and maintains a pertinently depressive tone without drifting into the clichéd realm of over-emotionality. The song is beautiful. An absolute masterpiece.

Modestly this album is sincerely wonderful, but no form of description hyperbolic or otherwise will ever do this album justice. It is certainly one of the greatest albums of all time.

Here’s the link to Postcards from Italy, but please if you purchase no other music in the next five years, get this album… 


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