First Listen Review: Beirut – What Went Down

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The Good: No No No has a much more casual style to it than previous Beirut records, which is both a good and a bad thing. It features a much smaller ensemble of instruments than the virtual orchestras of previous albums and this allows for a more streamlined presentation of the music and highlights mastermind, Zach Condon’s, pop sensibilities. It has a more relaxed feel to it than his older works, with a quiet kind of joy, like the calm after a storm is over. No No No is not Beirut’s best album, it plays it a little to safe for that, but it’s a solid return and fans will find enough here to not be disappointed.

The Bad: As much as the instrumental restraint in No No No feels like a maturation of Condon’s songwriting abilities, I miss the tidal waves of his older music where it would feel like he had thrown every instrument he could find in the studio into the climax of a song. It could be a bit of a crutch at times but it also had a really powerful emotional effect. Hopefully, he will figure out how to work these moments back into his songs while still continuing to grow as an artist. It would be nice to see him playing it a little less safe.

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