Review of Gulag Orkestar Album by Beirut

Gulag Orkestar
Ba Da Bing
Album Review

Beirut Gulag Orkestar Album

The Neutral Milk Hotel album In the Airplane Over The Sea is one of the all-time classics of intelligent anti-rock, and that band never followed it up. NMH's Jeremy Barnes, however, has a heavy hand in this album by 19-year old Brooklyn boy Zach Gordon, and it is as inventive as they come. Comparisons to Airplane are inevitable, but that's not a bad thing. Other comparisons include Andrew Bird, Tom Waits, Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens and, just possibly, Russian folk music (as suggested by the title).

This is a work of rare genius, with utterly compelling rock mixed through a few centuries' worth of music. It rewards from the first listen, but is more habit-forming than nicotine. There is no pigeonhole that would do this album justice, such is its level of creativity and surprise. No fan of Waits or Sufjan could resist this album, but it should have a place on every right-thinking listener's shelf. Whisper it, but it may even be better than Neutral Milk Hotel's album...


Mike Rea

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