Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Beirut The Rip Tide. Accordion, drums, horn, amazingness. Is there a more under appreciated band than Beirut? His is the oldest soul to grace a baby fat adumbrated face in a very long time. First track- a joyful sing along, effortlessly graceful, heart rending and majestic. Big. Not quite La LLorona massive but production wise things are greatly improved in the land of former gypsies, flugelhorns and Santa Fe area codes on mobile phones. I am meeting a great number of people from Albuquerque these days but not so Santa Fe'ans. I met an Albequerquean in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and two last evening at dinner. New Mexico just doesn't have the same sense that Colorado has, it seems more authentically part of the frontier still, barely tethered to the mainland, anchors oriented in the opposite direction, the soil radioactive by leeching and stiff breezes generated from horizon fall out and anasazi voodoo. Second track-Santa Fe, bouncy, music a trifle pianola-esque, music box music in repetition, his voice elegant and distant and the words just a bit out of focus. Are they masked because he does not enjoy the sound of his voice? It is truly the loveliest thing. The lyrics are always spare but most always gentle and poignant. Most always, perhaps always, a middle section of wordless worldliness and moonshot echoes and choruses uknown. Back to the pianola. Did he retreat to his inner New Mexico to record this record? Was the journey metaphysical? He's on and on about Santa Fe at the moment. I have never been. I was invited to Wisconsin on this past weekend. My roots are in the Midwest and as such the ghosts that inhabit these songs are foreign, disassociated, jin-like, relics of a mixture of betrayal and superstition. In fact they are clearly more interesting than an exposition of the darkness that lies at the heart of Sterling Heights, MI which is where I was raised. His voice is infused with a natural melancholia and the penchant for forlorn storytelling must somehow be tied both to genetics and the environment of being isolated on an alien plot. And Beirut is married now. I have been expressing my own delight at being in love. And now I am writing in a state of nervousness. When you are a loner used to being alone, enjoying Beirut in an insular existence it becomes doubly terrifying should you be wrenched back from happiness and cast back into a life without meaning. I mean to be a better person because I mean to be the person that someone already believes me to be. It is the most exciting process I have undergone to gain confidence that comes from without and from the feelings manufactured within because of the sustenance of joy and wonder. Love is everything else, Beirut is almost...but not quite. I had not had a proper reaction to this record for a very long time, it has not been the new Beirut record for some time but I have not come to terms even now. It's pleasant and terrific and smartly produced but hmmm...first there was the astonishment of youth, next the thrill of escapism not once but twice, the idea that brass could be so expressive and absolutely all encompassing was until March of the Zapotec unknowable to the likes of us. Next track, fourth track, Goshen, now my worries haunt my heart and I want to use this forum to express my terrors only. But it is the distance, the unfamiliarity of the silences spent in between the moments when life seems effortless, when with Goshen's elegiac horn refrain as soundtrack to a confluence of joy. Joy Joy Joy. I have found it outside of this existence as a conduit between the longings of pop singers and the soil falling over my head. Four tracks, four wonderful tracks, perhaps my expectations were too far evolved. I outpaced the boy wonder. He's married now, settled, content, professional. Fifth track Payne's Bay, is it all too familiar. The rustic west, the glint caressed from the big sky at sunset. The dryness can be wearying. Desmond Morris has called humans the aquatic ape. I am coming around to becoming an adherent. A lovely coda, a female voice has joined him and the song has begun its descent into dormancy, the middle of the day when the sun as terrorist drives the sane from view of the public into darker recesses where dreams of troubadours and retracing of the steps of Barbara Tuchman occupy a young man's fancy. Sixth track-The Rip Tide, the title track. I read an interview with Beirut that appeared around the same time as this album and I was let down that though his soul is surely antiqued and weathered it is from a physiological anomaly not through the following through the rabbit hole. I wouldn't imagine he will be penning a disconsolate ode for the Marechal De Retz or a celebratory hymn for the Lucrezia that deserves better than we allow because his depth of soul is a physical trait honed from birth rather than a sentimental attachment bolted on through experience and curiosity. And so the dripping horns that close out this track are from feelings bound in nerve endings and human emotion instead of a contrived nostalgia ginned up out of books and ancient paintings appreciated more for their age than their skill. Seventh track-Vagabond. Beirut by the numbers, still magnificently elegant, his voice wounded by instinct, the music weathered and restrained, the middle eight eclectic and playful, but then there are only nine songs. Should this have made the cut? Hmm...I find it rather easy to dismiss such goodness. Perhaps it is my nervous state. I only hope to make to Alaska, in Alaska lies salvation and the filling of senses and the removal of "Are you ok?", "isn't life strange" and "could we be this happy, are we so lucky". Perhaps there needs only the plaintive strains of The Peacock on wave generated oscillations perched far above to burst thought bubbles that lead hearts astray. The heart is the domain of Beirut, to listen to such luminous constructions without even the slightest tinge of agnosticism would reveal only the shallowness of your existence. Last track, such a song, a ukulele, his stirring tones, now a piano and the story seems essential and harrowingly meaningful if only be performance. The art of performance, the inheriting of a role, the transfiguration of a mundane existence by mere proximity to this genius. What an existence we lead, by technology we flit from England by way of Australia to Finland to Sweden by way of Australia and now to Santa Fe by way of a glamourous recounting of all of the magic conjured by all of the world's greatest pop songs with ukulele and a collection of tired consonants and dreams.