On The Rip Tide, frontman Zach Condon leads Beirut deeper into the imaginary country that inspires his refreshingly original music. Lively artifacts of his serial fascinations with Gypsy brass, mariachi and French chanson are everywhere, but this album distills something that’s threaded through every previous release: the elegiac beauty of Condon’s melodies. Cryptic, evocative lyrics, delivered in his sonorous, dramatically deadpan vocal style, circle the theme of going home. The band’s oddly appropriate instrumentation—
Malajube La Caverne (MB3 Records)
If Malajube were English-speaking and not a Francophone hipster indie band from Montreal, this music would come off like the beige, overproduced adult contemporary fare that gets radio airplay. Like Train. Or Maroon 5. Nevertheless, the group’s fourth album is not without its charms—namely the prog rock-esque synthesizer parts and the fact that they’re singing in French. Most of the arrangements are fairly derivative and dull, though—the rhythm section being especially boring. (JCC)
VHS or Beta Diamonds & Death (Chromosome Records)
The first minute and a half of this album sounds like a creation of C + C Music Factory. Any campiness is quickly dispelled, though, and the vintage-inspired beats and synth sounds become super smooth but slightly lo-fi. Diamonds & Death—the first release in four years from dance rock duo VHS or Beta—is decidedly more dance and less rock. The band attributes this shift to a relocation from Kentucky to Brooklyn. Whatever the cause, bravo—I could listen to this album all day. The beats of “I Found a Reason” and “Jellybean” are particularly fresh. (JCC)
(MM) Mel Minter, (JCC) Jessica Cassyle Carr
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Jenna Dunlap • singer-