Zach Condon's third outing under the Beirut moniker shakes the compass and tosses it into the dirt, kicking up a typically eclectic cloud of orchestral indie pop that allows all of his influences (Balkan, French chanson, alternative rock, and European and Mexican folk) a chance to throw down. Opening with the familiar sound of a four-chord round stacked with accordion, brass, and ukulele, “A Candle’s on Fire,” which features harmonies from fellow Brooklyn-ite Sharon Van Etten, sets the tone for what may end up being Condon's most personal and least fussy set of tunes to date, despite the habitual, ornate instrumentation. Condon spends much of Rip Tide writing in first person, and it lends an air of much needed intimacy to the always gorgeous, yet historically elusive Beirut sound. Bolstered by a pair of instantly likeable singles in “East Harlem” and the spirited and animated, road trip-ready “Santa Fe,” the latter of which pays homage to the singer’s southwestern hometown, and peppered with sparse, warm ballads and a title track that swaps the usual, Condon-esque image of a cobblestone-lined, Eastern European village for a post-siesta cocktail at a beachfront Mediterranean cafe, Rip Tide, like the band’s previous two releases, feels like a postcard from another era, only this time around, it’s signed and dated.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger