Beirut 

The Flying Club Cup (BA DA BING)

With The Flying Club Cup, Zach Condon has woven another complex, elegiac record so beautiful it belies his tender age (21). Inspired by French culture and its melodramatic chanson style of music, Cup shows an evolution from the hurdy-gurdy Balkan sound first introduced on 2006’s much-praised Gulag Orkestar. Now backed by his eight-member touring band and supported by string arranger Owen Pallett, Condon seems buoyed and self-assured. This maturity is most noticeable in ‘Nantes’, the opening track. Still vulnerable but not as fragile — a youngster with an old soul — he moans, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you smile.” Certain tracks, like ‘Guyamas Sonora’, are strongly reminiscent of the soaring work of the Divine Comedy in the best possible way. But Condon can sometimes get carried away; the militaristic ‘Cliquot’, on which Pallett sings lead, is so theatrical that it could be from Les Misérables. It’s not a flawless album, but it’s sure to inspire more envious despair.

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