Beirut | The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing)

cd_beirut.jpgThe Flying Club Cup sees Beirut’s Zach Condon combining his Eastern European roots with a tinge of French pop crooning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buzz can do wonders for a band. Beirut was all over blogs before their 2006 debut, Gulag Orkestar, was even released. The album was the brainchild of Zach Condon, young high school dropout turned troubadour. The Balkan brass filled album featured Condon playing almost every instrument and achieved wide acclaim. Earlier this year, Condon released the Lon Gisland EP, expanding Beirut’s sound by using a full band, giving a less melancholy, more majestic sound in the same Eastern European vein. These releases launched the young band to incredible heights. Their second full-length release would show if all the success was beginners luck or just the start of something really special.

The Flying Club Cup sees Condon combining his Eastern European roots with a tinge of French pop crooning. Though essentially the same instruments are used, they create a very different atmosphere. The worldview of this album seems somehow different than that of Gulag Orkestar. Instead of images of gypsies and despair, the listener gets whimsical images of hot air balloons and romanticism. Listening to the album makes me feel like I am stepping into an old black-and-white French film with really great cinematography and a beautiful soundtrack. There are feelings of love, heartbreak, longing, and excitement drowned in the sounds of horns, strings, and ukuleles. Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy provided string arrangements for the album, giving the songs a gentle splendor that was not as prominent before.

The album opens with the call of a conch shell before jumping right into the picturesque sounds of Condon’s impressive vocal vibrato and magnificent backing band. The band’s versatility is evident within the first few tracks as they dance from the blaring instrumentation of "Nantes" to the almost drunken "Sunday Smile." The album’s middle act packs a big one-two-three punch with my three favorite songs in a row. "Cliquot" features Pallett on lead vocals (which blend wonderfully with Condon’s backing vocals) and is driven by intense percussion. "The Penalty" begins as a gentle ukulele song that really showcases Zach’s beautiful voice and ends with bombastic accordions and drums. "Forks & Knives (La Fete)" has Pallett’s best string arrangement for the whole album and feels like a big party.

This sophomore release shows that Zach Condon really is the musical wizard that Beirut’s debut hinted at. The Flying Club Cup is one of the best baroque pop albums I’ve ever heard and don’t see myself growing tired of it anytime soon. Beirut’s strength comes in their enchanting array of instruments and Condon’s voice. I look forward to seeing these young musicians grow over the years. A | Pete Wissinger

Check out the awesome videos for the album by the guys from La Blogotheque’s "Takeaway Shows" (http://flyingclubcup.com/)

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