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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 isnít 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 Ė his band is named after a city, after all. Beirutís new record, The Flying Club Cup, takes its inspiration from various burgs in France. This means plenty of accordion and warbly, romantic vocalizing.

Which isnít 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 Ė Beirutís debut was tracked at his folksí house, and this one was recorded at A Hawk and a Hacksawís Albequerque practice pad and Arcade Fireís converted Masonic temple studio Ė and some people might find Condonís approach to world music disingenuous (Iím thinking of Gogol Bordelloís Eugene Nicolaev, who vehemently accuses non-ethnic ďethnicĒ acts of playing ďfucking flavored music.Ē)

Still, Flying Club tastes pretty good. None of the compositions sound forced, but then again, they donít sound authentically Gallic, either. Itís more like Connor Oberst swapped emo-Americana for of Old World fromage. Or maybe thatís not giving Condon enough credit. The arrangements are strong, particularly in the discís second half, and you could practically swim in the expanses between the understated instrumentation and Condonís 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 itís certainly not rock, but The Flying Club Cup is consistent in its idyllic, perhaps idealistic charms. Condonís 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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