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Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

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Artist: Beirut

Album: The Flying Club Cup

Label: Ba Da Bing

Review date: Oct. 8, 2007

The idea of an album as aural travelogue isn’t particularly new; countless bands and artists have attempted to evoke the mystique and charm of sundry locales, from pulsing metros to bucolic backwaters. Beirut, the brainchild of 21-year-old Zach Condon, has a leg up on the competition – his band is named after a city, after all. Beirut’s new record, The Flying Club Cup, takes its inspiration from various burgs in France. This means plenty of accordion and warbly, romantic vocalizing.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Condon has a reputation for musical immersion, as attested by previous full-length, the Balkan-themed Gulag Orkestar. Thing is, he never actually spends time in the places he composes for/about – Beirut’s debut was tracked at his folks’ house, and this one was recorded at A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s Albequerque practice pad and Arcade Fire’s converted Masonic temple studio – and some people might find Condon’s approach to world music disingenuous (I’m thinking of Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Nicolaev, who vehemently accuses non-ethnic “ethnic” acts of playing “fucking flavored music.”)

Still, Flying Club tastes pretty good. None of the compositions sound forced, but then again, they don’t sound authentically Gallic, either. It’s more like Connor Oberst swapped emo-Americana for of Old World fromage. Or maybe that’s not giving Condon enough credit. The arrangements are strong, particularly in the disc’s second half, and you could practically swim in the expanses between the understated instrumentation and Condon’s tremulous baritone.

The overall vibe is somewhere between cloistered and luxurious, with sweeping waltzes beset by introspective mood music that would sound best accompanied by a glass of piquant red wine and a half-dozen votive candles. Call it chill-out music for the retro-Euro set.

It might not be indie (whatever that means these days), and it’s certainly not rock, but The Flying Club Cup is consistent in its idyllic, perhaps idealistic charms. Condon’s Continental crush has resulted in a rather enchanting recording. Avec amour, indeed.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

Other Reviews of Beirut

Gulag Orkestar

March of The Zapotec and Realpeople Holland

The Rip Tide

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View all articles by Casey Rae-Hunter

Find out more about Ba Da Bing

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