There’s always something immensely familiar about Beirut’s sound, even when you haven’t heard the song before. That’s a positive. In a short period of time, Zach Condon’s proving himself a master of plaintive, rollicking nostalgia. Most of us met him in spring 2006 when he was enmeshed in that Gulag Orkestar’s Balkan sound-world. From there we were instructed to pronounce 2007’s Lon Gisland EP with a Long Island accent. Now, for his second full-length, The Flying Club Cup, Condon’s followed his muse to France: The title was purportedly inspired by a photo from 1910 of hot air balloons taking flight a hair away from the Eiffel Tower and each song’s meant to evoke a different French city. Vive La Différence!
Of course, Condon’s also taking off, moving further away from the kid recording solo in New Mexico. As with Lon Gisland, he’s working within a full-on eight-piece band. Initial tracks were recorded straight to a computer at A Hawk And A Hacksaw’s practice space (remember, they leant brass-y accents to Gulag) with production assistance from Man Man/AHAAH’s Griffin Rodriquez. Hawk’s Heather Trost contributed violin and viola to three tunes, but this time it’s all about that traveling band. Moving beyond the computer stuff, Condon and his posse struck a deal with Final Fantasy/Arcade Firer Owen Pallet to record at the Fire’s Masonic Church studio if they played on a forthcoming Pallet E.P. Guess they shook on it … Beirut got more tracks.
All that studio chatter’s pretty Musician of us, but the background helps to explain the impressive expansion: tambourines rattle alongside more varieties of percussion than we can count, massively beautiful string sections swell … Or how about the scissoring accordion, rat-a-tat drums, and cascading wine-sipping choir of “The Penalty”? The uke can still get mighty lonesome, as on “Forks And Knives (La Fete),” but our favorites carry the biggest list of ingredients: sample ‘n’ kitchen-sink toting “Nantes,” “A Sunday Smile,” with its elegantly stringed carnival pump and lilt, etc.
Sure, Beirut still makes us plenty nostalgic, but now that the Jacques Brel-lovin’ 21-year-old’s experimenting with different textures and introducing newer cadences and color tones, we’ve got ourselves a brand new world to investigate. And, to be honest, we’ve only just started…
The Flying Club Cup is out 10/9 on Ba Da Bing.