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Music Review – Beirut, Flying Cup Club

Submitted by on 11 Feb 2009 – 9:50 AM Comments

Flying Cup Club is the newest album from solo artist Beirut, a.k.a. Zack Condon. The album reveals itself as a treasure trove of Condon’s many musical gifts. The song “Nantes” sounds temptingly obscure, restrained, and not preoccupied by any particular reference or feeling. “A Sunday Smile,” though about specified people and places, has a refrain in the ether. The track “Guyamas Sonora” showcases Condon’s propensity towards delightful piano ballads. Not meaning to save the best for last, the song begins with a ukulele and heavy accordion to mesh with Condon’s layered vocals.

“In the Mausoleum” encompasses a trance-inducing violin arrangement by Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett (with Beirut’s violinist Kristin Ferebee). The violins are some of the album’s many highlights, providing the perfect stringy juxtaposition to Condon’s more tightly packed instrumentals.

Condon’s intricate and organic vocals are omnipresent on every track. There is the sensation of weariness throughout the album, as if the singer has further to go on his already long journey. His vocals are able to tell the stories his melodies create. On “Cliquot,” his voice is so hopelessly romantic that the song teeters blissfully on the edge of ‘whimsical.’

The Flying Cup Club, with all its intangible obscurity and sometimes hapless lyrics about “spent-cigarettes,” is actually destined for some common familiar place gotten to by way of muck and mire.

Serena Sanford