Beirut – Hadsel

Wistful troubadour Zach Condon returns with Hadsel, an album of well-written songs that feel a little too familiar

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 09 Nov 2023
  • Beirut – Hadsel
Album title: Hadsel
Artist: Beirut
Label: Pompeii Records
Release date: 10 Nov

The background to Hadsel, Zach Condon's sixth album as Beirut, reads like an AI imagining of a new Beirut album. Condon decamped to a remote Norwegian island (Hadsel), spent his days playing an organ in a 200-year-old church and used these recordings as the basis for a new album, later adding his usual mix of trumpet, French horns and other kooky instruments.

The resulting songs are delivered with Condon's typically layered touch, his voice as yearning and ephemeral as usual. There are some new ideas, along with the aforementioned organ; baritone ukelele (So Many Plans), processed drums (Baion, Stokmarknes) and squiggling modular synths (January 18th, Süddeutsches Ton-Bild-Studio). But the palette will be dependably comfortable to long-time fans, and these songs fit snugly alongside previous material.

The album is surprisingly warm given its inspiration, but that may be a result of its intimacy as Condon frequently jumps between hopeful and despairing (sometimes in the same song, as in the highlight So Many Plans), but he manages to keep the arrangements majestic while keeping his vocals coy.

Ultimately, it's a collection of well-written and well-presented songs, though at this point the familiarity with the Condon style feels expected, and the few new tweaks aren't quite enough to raise Hadsel above a middling Beirut album.

Listen to: So Many Plans, Regulatory