Portland Oregon is undoubtedly the quintessential breeding grounds of indie rock. Band after band it seems; develop in the murky ports of this liberal yet humble community. Little Beirut follows suit and is considered a standout in an over-abundance of bands in the dense area. Their music invoking the west coast winds by lifting you above the clouds, swaying back and forth to the melodies but is largely unobtrusive.
Little Beirut, named after George HW Bush’s sour description of Portland while being protested during a visit, are far from complicated but that is by design. As lead singer Hamilton Sims explains, “We are not advant garde, we’re not trying to weird you out.” Fear of Heaven begins with arguably the standout track within the distorted dreamscape of “Last Light”. With the hypnotic bass lines and Sims’ seductive voice, Little Beirut keeps you toe-tapping with melodies that will be feasting on your consciousness beyond the closure of the album. Songs like “Cosmic Waitress” and “Nadia” displays the core of Fear of Heaven. There is deep appreciation and affection for power pop, but Little Beirut walks a fine line of rationing a dose intermittingly without becoming too rich for the audience. Though don’t be confused by the overused term and varied spectrums of the word ‘pop’. It leaves more than enough mystery and craftsmanship to avoid radio’s predictable pop stranglehold.
Fear of Heaven becomes stagnant over time, which is a pitfall to be expected with each dreamy track after another. The ambience turns more soothing and timid at the expense of dreadfully losing any edge by the time “Crooked Crown” closes us out. Overall, Fear of Heaven is a pleasing listen considering the circumstances. It’s unadulterated yet far from jagged in almost every aspect of production; but somehow it escaped with the bewildering paradox of pop eloquence.