Beirut, “No No No”
No No No
Zach Condon emerged in 2006 as an indie-folk wunderkind at only twenty years old. His initial releases as Beirut—Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup—quickly pushed Condon into the limelight and slotted quite well into what were then the genre’s maximalist inclinations. Oh, how times have changed. Now even daring songwriters like Sufjan Stevens and Colin Meloy are embracing more delicate frameworks. Beirut’s fourth album No No No follows this elegant and modest trend with a poppy collection of songs based simply around piano, bass, and drums.
This shift was spurred by a tumultuous period in Condon’s life: he faced a divorce and hospitalization in Australia for exhaustion following extensive touring for 2011’s The Rip Tide. Thankfully, Condon fully recovered (thanks to a new significant other and his return to New York), but the sweeping grandeur of Beirut was lost in the process. The resulting nine-song collection is entrancing in restrained ways. The flute-led “August Holland” and electrified shuffle “Perth” tread new paths in Beirut’s ever-expanding garden maze of sounds. The group’s previous calling cards—swelling brass or the romantic swoop of an orchestra’s strings—are only seldom heard throughout No No No. And, to be honest, it’s a little sad to see them go.