Review: Beirut’s “No No No”

 Beirut-No-No-No-560x560Beirut, arguably one of the most instrumentally bold bands in recent years, have returned after a four-year break since their last album, dropping a collection of songs that sway more towards the realm of piano-pop than the grandiose Balkan-influenced folk that garnered them acclaim earlier in their career (see: 2007’s The Flying Club Cup).

While not their best album by any means (see again: The Flying Club Cup), No No No still offers enough creative and compelling musical moments to be entertaining in its own right. Album opener “Gibraltar” is driven by a smooth bongo beat that wouldn’t be out of place on a previous album. Lead single and title track “No No No” brings in a jaunty horn section which, again, would fit right in at many other places in Beirut’s discography. The instrumental “As Needed” feels like it was ripped straight from an elevator music catalog. “Fener” has a jazzy sort of bumpiness to it and a wonderful tempo shift mid-song that stands out as one of the best moments on the album.

What No No No does so well is bringing together pieces of old Beirut and a whole new Beirut that’s only previously been hinted at. It never overstays its welcome — its nine songs clock in at just under thirty minutes — but it stays just long enough and with enough piano-driven hooks to appeal to a broader audience while also remaining steadfastly Beirut.

Check out the video for “Gibraltar” here: