Sometimes music criticism is a little harder than it should be. Beirut – chiefly main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon – are one of those paradoxical outfits who it’s fun to poke fun at but remain obstinately popular, clocking up the sort of streaming numbers many over indulgent cool hunters would give their Walkmans to earn.
Condon himself has relocated to Berlin since 2016’s No, No, No and in person is self-effacing and on the meek side, giving yet more ammunition to those who snidely put down Beirut’s eclectic mix of whimsical ethnic folk and elegiac pop as hipster froth, no better than the American equivalent of a better read Mumford & Sons.
Gallipoli is far less transparent than that, whilst simultaneously leaving its creator open; for example the lilting Mariachi roll of opener When I Die gives the song an unexpectedly fiesta vibe and the glistening Gauze Fur Zah has strength and purpose to complement it’s finessed ending. But nitpickers will feast on the inclusion of three instrumentals and where lyrics do exist – Family Curse’s “Love is like the yore/It takes us back ashore/Let’s get out more” – they’re more often than not simply opaque window dressing.
This then is Gallipoli’s problem; enough of a blank canvas that everyone can paint their own impressions onto it, but yet it’s always striving for an identity away from the simple clichés of rock and roll.