No No No is the fourth full-length studio effort by New York-based band Beirut. Fronted by multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon, Beirut’s sound combines influences from pop, orchestral, and international folk/world music, making for a round and distinct sound. Each of the 9 songs on No No No tells the story of a man trying to pull his life back together after a time of intense isolation and anxiety.
Starting from the first lines of opener ‘Gilbratar’, “everything should be fine/you’ll find things tend to stand in line”, it’s apparent this album will have an optimistic shine. Condon’s iconic voice lends more to this song’s optimism than the hand-claps and warm keyboard. This is the case for almost all of the album’s songs. Stripping back from the usual multi-instrumentation seen in Beirut’s previous albums, No No No focuses more on a simple melody, piano stance, or drum beat and Condon’s vocals, leaving his iconic trumpet playing to be left in the background.
In places the album can appear rushed and unfinished, such as found in the bare-bones arrangement of “As Needed”. leaving the more casual listener with a sense of disappointment, seeing as it has been almost four years since the last Beirut release. Also, many of Condon’s vocals seem to be detached from the rest of the music, often appearing as too muffled to understand.
Overall, No No No is not one of Beirut’s strongest albums. The stripped back melodies and heartfelt lyrics show a different side to the band that is not otherwise seen through their previous albums. Standout tracks such as “Perth” and “Fener” both include more electronic elements, a phenomenon rarely seen in Beirut songs. This album shows a shift in the style and production of Beirut and hopefully the band will use this album and its subsequent live shows as an outlet to continue to grow and experiment with their ever-changing style.