Beirut - The Flying Club Cup - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Beirut - The Flying Club Cup

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:

Maybe I'm getting old, but Beirut - or more specifically Zach Condon - has not the sound, voice or [lack of] maturity I'd expect from a 21-year-old of our time; his music invokes images of raggedy musicians on cobbled streets rather than boys in skinny jeans with daft hair.

There are echoes of Gulag Orkestar and its Balkan stride, but the influences in this second album provide a decidedly more French façade. While it is said that each track was to allude to a different French city, it is the implicit dialogue taken from Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris (Contempt) in the stand-out track 'Nantes' that really brings the whole body of work together.

The mirror-facing-mirror detail of 'Nantes' - referring back beyond measure - gives the listener the first glimpse at the poetry and sophistication Condon uses to layer the album. It's easy to get swept away with the drama of the instrumentals - the gypsy tambourines; the glissando of the horns; the lullaby quality of Condon's voice - but although sometimes brief, the words are every bit as beautiful, evocative and deserving of recognition.

The one thing that does not sit so well, however, is that while I'm sure everything within the album is deliberate, and that perhaps my ear has become too romantic for its own good, there are moments within songs - like the title song - that clash and grate on the part of my brain that rejected atonal music a long time ago. Fans of all things nice and melodic may find these bumpy areas something of an irritation.

Perhaps the album could simply be considered interesting background music. With its almost constant use of the 3/4 sway in one or other guise - the churning and waltzing that fills every space - and songs seemingly merging into each other, you might be forgiven for drifting in and out of focus. It's only on closer inspection that this album really gets interesting.

On the whole The Flying Club Cup combines beautiful poetry with musical inspiration. Compared with the overly-produced titans that surround us today, this album may sound a mite scruffy, but to my mind, that simply adds to its charm and compounds its sense of honesty. Old beyond his years, there is depth to this album that belies Condon's age.

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