The Flying Club Cup
Beirut's Gulag Orkestar was one of 2006's best albums - a debut full of promise and mould-breaking folk rock that drew from hundreds of years of Balkan folk, Baroque and an acute indie ethic. The follow-up has come remarkably quickly, and there is some concern that the speed of the success has gone to Zach Condon's head. The Glastonbury performance this year was weak and erratic. And now, to the mix, comes a passion for the French cabaret chanson.
The Flying Club Cup is still expressive and full of lush melody, but it's rarely expansive and often repetitive. And that's despite the waltzes, the jazz, and the music of the steppes running throughout. However, it is only in reference to its predecessor that a criticism can be found - The Flying Cub Cup is a lovely album, full of great ideas, delivered more tamely but still beautifully. The feel of musical theatre is strong, with Condon's voice soaring impressively, like a less fragile Thom Yorke. The album's standout song is Cliquot, a romantic exotic masterpiece. Who'd have expected a young American to make the old music of Paris and the Balkans so giddily contemporary, so satisfying for an indie audience?