The fifth full-length by Zach Condon's Beirut, Gallipoli is a sequel of sorts to 2015's No No No in that it returns co-producer Gabe Wax and employs similar instrumentation, including Condon's Farfisa organ. An instrument that he acquired at his first job at a community art space in his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it had been left behind by a (literal) traveling circus and ended up serving as the main writing tool for Condon's first two Beirut albums. With that free-spirited background in mind as well as the fact that Wax has acted as recording engineer for bands like The War on Drugs and Fleet Foxes, where Gallipoli differs from its predecessor is in its level of vibrancy. In a statement about the album, Condon explained that they made an effort to channel performances through a series of amplifiers, PA systems, and tape machines, hoping to capture sounds like mechanical buzzing, creaking instruments, and off-pitch tones. It's hardly to lo-fi effect, however, with Condon's warm quaver and bevy of brass instruments, acoustic and electric guitars, electronic and acoustic drums, accordion, and mix of pianos, organs, and synthesizers including modular synths gathered under a production ethos that dials up already colorful arrangements to Technicolor spectacle. "Landscape," for example, layers persistent organ eighth notes, tight vocal harmonies, syncopated bass, and clattering and rumbling percussion and drum tones, all with a sustained force that sounds more symphonic than the components seem they should. The song is otherwise quite breezy, with an elongated vocal melody arching over all the accompaniment like a sun-speckled rainbow. Inspired by a brass band procession Condon witnessed in the coastal city of Gallipoli, Italy, the reflective title track opens with melodic, mechanical glitch and a studio-manufactured brass-and-drums band. Featuring Condon on multi-tracked trumpet and vocal harmonies, it, too, has a larger-than-life sound despite its more restrained emotional tone. The songwriter probably summarizes it best on "Varieties of Exile": "Every word sounds like a siren."
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson