Boomkat Product Review:
So here it is, the album that you've probably read about a thousand times already and serious contender for album of the year on numerous taste-making journals and blogs. Championed by the alternative music press as one of the finest records of the year, there's a lot of hype surrounding Beirut (aka 19 year old American Zach Condon) and its magical blend of Baltic quirk, Klezmer timelessness and pop hooks. Helped along by Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeremy Barnes and A Hawk and a Haksaw's Heather Trost, Beirut start proceedings with a modal fanfare of horns and piano, the mood already set for an utter blast. 'Gulag Orkestar' is an album that could have easily been recorded on cassette tape in eastern Europe 20 years ago, this is obviously the point - but it's done with so much energy and quirky referencing that you'll have probably never heard anything quite like it. Condon has somehow managed to distil his Slavic and Jewish traditional music influences into a coherent style, the tracks are concise and focused and the mood is so evocative it's hard not to fall totally in love with it on first listen. This is an album that manages to sound like a cross between Goran Bregovic's genius soundtrack work for Emir Kusturica, Matt Elliott, The Arcade Fire and David Byrne's most inspired work - and will without a doubt continue to be talked about for months to come as one of the most enjoyable records of the year so far. Utterly Essential.