With their second album, The Flying Club Cup, Beirut has proven that their first effort was by no means a fluke and have begun to work their way deeper into the hearts of their loyal fans and win new ones with their fantastical amalgamation of musical influences. From the gypsies of Andalusia to the streets of Paris and all the way across the Ocean to the New World, this profound musical statement includes as many musical styles as it does emotional responses to them.
It’s not often that someone with the very few years that Zach Condon has can put together something as enthralling and heart-breakingly beautiful as this young Arizona native has. After the success of their first album, The Gulag Orkestar, there was speculation that the band might not be able to pull it off again, but they have quieted the doubters with an album that will make any listener sit up and pay attention.
Nor is it an easy thing to combine this many musical influences together and have them make sense, but this album raises the question: why hasn’t it been done before?
No matter what your musical preferences are, you will find the allure of this album too much to bear. From the opening track with its ethereal, almost Tibetan sounding horns to the accordion and trumpet melodies of La Banlieu, this album starts by kissing you softly on the neck and keeps your attention by whispering sweet nothings softly in your ear while it runs its fingers through your hair.
Zach Condon, the leader and songwriter of the band, has a vocal range far beyond that of what one would think a 21 year old could have. He is the essential crooner and he sings with the emotional energy of a more seasoned veteran; with the experience of a man who has had too many whiskey drinks and too many lovers; as of an old soul.
There is an obvious French influence here. From the song titles (Un Dernier Verre, Cliquot) to the whimsical use of accordion and ukulele, one can almost picture the young singer sat on the steps of the Louvre, a bottle of wine in one hand, his trumpet in the other and a baguette lain upon his lap, his stripey-shirted monkey at his feet. Whimsical, indeed.
This is not Indy music in the way that we have begun to the of Indy rock. There is no self-hatred, angst or displacement here. This music is a celebration of all life. Think of a beautiful afternoon drinking on a patio with a beautiful woman that leads into a night full of blissful, unprotected sex, then waking up in the morning and finding that she has stolen your wallet and left you with a dose. Think of it as the best memory you’ll ever have and the best story you’ll ever tell. There is a full range of emotional content on this album and it is approached with a lust and zeal for life, instead of the gratuitous and all too ubiquitous whininess that accompanies most of today’s music.
There’s also a real feeling of community in this music, something that’s been missing for a long time from modern music. This music is inclusive of all humanity and is in no way derisive or critical. Even at its saddest moments, this album contains a sense of longing and hope unrivaled by the band’s contemporaries. The music will have you rocking back and forth like a contented schizophrenic and make you feel like you’ve finally come home after a long period of absence.
This is yet another tremendous leap forward for this band, a band that can only continue to grow and get better and better.