Gulag Orkestar

Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. It's tightly focused, beautifully written, and totally without filler.
  2. Beirut’s brilliant debut album is full of grandeur and intimacy, with accordions, ukuleles and brass instruments complementing contemporary notions like drum machines and digestible song structures while simultaneously channeling the ancient appeal of Balkan folk music.
  3. Though he may not have the experience in years, he more than makes up for it in the way he crafts his songs.
  4. Precocious, other-worldly and vividly ambitious.
  5. An outstanding debut album, and easily one of my favorite releases of the year so far.
  6. Entertainment Weekly
    83
    Far more redolent of 1920s Bucharest than modern-day Albuquerque. [2 Jun 2006, p.84]
  7. Right off the bat, you realize this is serious music for serious listeners.
  8. The tumescent, endlessly inventive songs are seldom less than exquisitely performed.
  9. It's the ageless warmth and humanity that makes the clashing elements work.
  10. New Musical Express (NME)
    80
    A record of rare and strange beauty. [4 Nov 2006, p.33]
  11. An emotive, atmospheric dreamworld that sounds like an echo from history.
  12. Q Magazine
    80
    An astonishingly moving distillation of Eastern European melancholia with elegant histrionics a la Rufus Wainwright. [Dec 2006, p.141]
  13. So, yes: this is cuddly, warm and intimate, just like all your favorite blogs have said.
  14. Time and again, the most powerful element of Gulag Orkestar, and what ought to be emphasized, is Condon's acrobatic, powerful, emotionally nuanced voice.
  15. The second half of the album wallows in the shadow of the first, unable to conjure the absolute majesty of the first four tracks.
  16. Under The Radar
    70
    A wonderful debut. [#14]
  17. Ignore the clunky lyrics... and Gulag Orkestar is an infinitely more appealing album.
  18. Beirut's mournful horn riffs, driving piano, sprightly ukulele, dense percussion and occasional synth loops proved haunting and entrancing at best, flat-out morose at worst, and benignly pretty the rest of the time.
  19. Rolling Stone
    70
    Delightfully downtrodden. [24 Aug 2006, p.90]
  20. Uncut
    70
    It's impressive... but it will be interesting to see whether his undoubted talent will flourish beyond such a conceit. [Sep 2006, p.83]
  21. It's not without fault; too many songs and too little variation between the tracks detract from unequivocal enjoyment. Much more of an album to admire, rather than cherish.
  22. The 11 tracks of Gulag Orkestar are very good, but not the stunning achievement you might be led to believe they are.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 46 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 1 out of 26
  1. Aug 2, 2014
    10
    Uplifting most of the time, with a pinch of depression, nostalgia and rejoice. With clear, pure, sensitive and deep instruments and Zach'sUplifting most of the time, with a pinch of depression, nostalgia and rejoice. With clear, pure, sensitive and deep instruments and Zach's exhilarating and emotional voice. Much more than 11 tracks: almost 40 minutes of an exquisite feeling... travelling back to a traditional Balkan party where everything feels, breathes hope and celebration. To describe it in a word, this album is sublime. Full Review »
  2. Nov 1, 2011
    7
    It's hard not to appreciate this album. Although I do think it is overrated - it's not the type of album that I could ever call a classic andIt's hard not to appreciate this album. Although I do think it is overrated - it's not the type of album that I could ever call a classic and the style of it wouldn't be everyones cup of tea, but it is one of the more original albums I've heard over the last few years. I'd nearly guarantee that it's very different to most of the rest of your record collection and it does try some brave ideas on it, however not all of them are brilliant. Full Review »
  3. BurlescoP.
    Jul 14, 2007
    10
    Travelling to another world.