Beirut
The Flying Club Cup


4.0
excellent

Review

by plane EMERITUS
October 11th, 2007 | 73 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: it's been a long time now

The difference between Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup isn’t subtle, but it’s nonetheless provoking: The Eastern European influences are there, pushing through in a celebration of class, but Gulag Orkestar seems immediate in comparison to The Flying Club Cup’s nuanced maturation. The former seems the lovechild of a teenager traveling Europe, exploring noises and sounds in wonderment; the latter a controlled, retrospective bout of nostalgia. It’s a tighter ship and a stable hand, but Condon seems surer of himself without having to prove himself with flash or overtly constructed folk. So without this immediacy, The Flying Club Cup’s fluid stride is that of an old best friend who has done well for himself but really isn’t himself anymore, showing up to his graduating class’ ten-year reunion.

But underneath the polished exterior still lies the wide-eyed explorer, traveling the back roads of Europe, and he shows in spurts, cracking the mold. It’s Condon who makes a hefty feet, distracting us with his hands and then kicks out our feet: ‘Nantes’ is the subdued emotion that seemed so ready to break free before, the gentle tapping percussion in the back keeping a beat waiting to let loose. “It’s been a long time, long time now, since I’ve seen you smile,” he sings, swaying gently to the trumpets and horns. He’s not fooling us but asking for our attention, challenging us where so few seem to do. ‘La Banlieue’ gently weaves from its xylophone lead-in to its sparse use of pianos to draw emotion from the stilted front Condon puts up. It stems from how he describes the album (“pop songs shrouded in big, glorious, over-the-top arrangements and all this drama”) and it shows.

The drama proves the most interesting, those who turn a deaf ear to the lyrical content getting a less pivotal turn of events. ‘Cliquot’ is so abrasively catchy considering those that precede it in its triumphant strings and shaking percussion that Condon’s sudden point-of-view shift goes unnoticed (courtesy of Final Fantasy’s outed Owen Pallett): “What melody will lead my lover from his bed" What melody will see him in my arms again"” It’s challenging and unfocused, a lyrical centerpiece that unhinges a forbidden lust than a pallid insecurity. When in the ukulele melody of ‘The Penalty’ Condon sings, “Our parents rue the day, they find us kneeling. Let them think what they may, for they've good reason,” it is shadowed by the content to ‘Cliquot’ without ever truly being connected. It’s a fine example of the wheels spinning beneath The Flying Club Cup, where the violin-pop bombast of ‘Forks And Knives (La Fête)’ and Condon’s vocal melody pull off being aesthetically pleasing and charming.

But little comes in the way of surprise past the pop highlight of ‘In The Mausoleum,’ Sufjan Stevens in the way of a Europe of the 1910s. A classically trained piece full of pianos, organs, and strings with Condon’s strong but understated vocal work, it sends The Flying Club Cup’s latter half into a strong tailspin. The rest lays on Beirut’s tight songwriting and keen sense for too much and too little, ‘Un Denier Verre (Pour La Route)’ a wonderfully minimalist piano to the horn grandeur of ‘Cherbourg.’ And Beirut knows how to finish an album in style, the title-track a mesh of the best pieces to The Flying Club Cup’s puzzle coming together with group singing that wavers into the drunken drum roll of its final segment. It’s just part of that wide-eyed explorer charm seeping through after a night of heavy drinking with old best friends. It may not always be immediate, but Beirut still manages to weave an enthralling tale. And there’s no doubt this aged club member has more than enough exploration stories under his belt, even if it takes a little digging to find it. It’s more than worth the effort.



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user ratings (459)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
John Darr (5)
In with the old and in with the new....



Comments:Add a Comment 
plane
Emeritus
October 11th 2007


7156 Comments


I didn't expect the review to be this long, but once I started analyzing it from a critical point of view, it just kept getting better. Strongly, strongly recommended.

sgrevs
October 11th 2007


698 Comments


Excellent, excellent review, I can't wait to hear this.

I heard one song on the radio this morning and it was alright, nothing special like Elephant Gun though. I still have high expectations, especially after this review.

The Jungler
October 11th 2007


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had plans to listen to this today. Your review, which is good by the way, makes me want to do so much more.

Will post opinion later today.

JAD
October 11th 2007


200 Comments


I really need to hear this. Elephant Gun was increadible.

plane
Emeritus
October 11th 2007


7156 Comments


Thanks a lot everyone. Felt really good about this review. I hope this album gains more rep and momentum in lieu of the Radiohead release.

This should probably be featured in place of Jens Lekman.This Message Edited On 10.11.07

The Jungler
October 11th 2007


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this a lot, not sure if its better than the debut though. Seems like it will be a good autumn album.

Two-Headed Boy
October 11th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Picking this up soon. Gulag Orkestar is really fantastic.



Great work with the review. Really descriptive.

plane
Emeritus
October 13th 2007


7156 Comments


For anyone who's interested, I added three tracks. 'In The Mausoleum' is such a great song.

80vs90
October 16th 2007


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just bought this (as opposed to downloaded) because of your review. glad i did. while it doesn't have the same oomph as gulag okestar or lon gisland, still a great album.

Doppelganger
October 18th 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The instrumental section in 'In The Mausoleum' is sooooo gooood.

Drickey
October 23rd 2007


38 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After reading that review I got hold of this and Gulag Orkestar.



They be excellent, met my expectations and then some.



So the The Flying Club Cup is my favorite. It seems to be the tightest and most catchy. I can't say I've really listened to Gulag Orkestar properly yet through.

plane
Emeritus
October 24th 2007


7156 Comments


Definitely. After repeated listens, this one is probably my favorite. It's just so consistent and awesome. I might bump up the rating because of it.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 24th 2007


6027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This review was really good. I'm going to go out and buy this tomorrow. I've heard 'Nantes' and it was pretty good.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 24th 2007


4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the user rating distribution is exciting to look at.

Kuchster
October 26th 2007


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would just like to thank you for a really well written review. I probably would never have listened to Beirut before this, but now i am really digging it! Really chilled and consistent album.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 27th 2007


6027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So I bought this and I'm thinking this could be a 4.5. It's fantastic. I'll play it casually for a week or so more and see what I want to rate it.

Drickey
October 27th 2007


38 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm thinking about rising my rating as well.



Even my dad loves this album.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 30th 2007


6027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

4.5.



I really love this.

delooks
November 6th 2007


10 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not a big fan of the genre, but SICK album none the less. great music to study to. nice review by the way, agreement on all points.

ktstein
November 6th 2007


459 Comments


This just wasn't my cup of tea AT ALL. My roommate tried to get me into this, and I was like...is that an accordian?

Not a fan, but good review, nonetheless.



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