Album Reviews

Beirut: March Of The Zapotec / Holland [Album Review]


In what could technically be called Beirut‘s third LP, the March Of The Zapotec / Holland double EP sees Zach Condon and company once again delivering a masterpiece. Concerns leading to the release of The Flying Club Cup saw many – myself included – worried that the Balkan orchestral sound would stale and grow old. And while the group’s second didn’t quite hold the power of The Gulag Orkestar, it was a more than solid release. But on Zapotec / Holland, one will find themselves falling truly in love.

Yes, this release finds Beirut once again owning the Balkan sound, dominating in blaring trumpets, masterful ukeleles and multiple percussionists. Songs like “My Wife”, and even more so in “The Akara”, find Condon at his most earnest – where The Flying Club Cup saw him straying from domination (The Gulak Orkestar being an album recorded in full by the man himself) and, in retrospect, perhaps struggling a bit with the task, there’s none of that here. Each tune, including the half-minute opener, holds power to match the debut.

While it may not be visible initially, there’s often reason behind seeming madness. And so it is here: Why would Beirut dub this a double EP? It quickly becomes apparent that March Of The Zapotec covers Songs 1-6 and Holland covers 7-11. Where the former has stark similarities to Beirut’s prior repertoire, Holland sees the group taking a slightly new direction – adding electronics.

But, where others have tried and failed (Conor Oberst’s Digital Ash), Condon can do no wrong – if anything, Holland is almost welcome, despite the greatness of March Of The Zapotec. Second EP opener “My Night With the Prostitute from Marseille” is as good as anything off the first half; it’s a trait that follows Holland through “No Dice”, the closing track. Once again, Beirut delivers, and they deliver big.

Beirut: My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille [mp3]
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March Of The Zapotec by Beirut

Ba Da Bing Records [2xCDEP, 2009]

1. El Zocalo
2. La Llorna
3. My Wife
4. The Akara
5. On A Bayonet
6. The Shrew
7. My Night With The Prostitute From Marseilles
8. My Wife, Lost In The Wild
9. Venice
10. The Concubine
11. No Dice

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