French To Say The Least
The first track on Beirutâ€šÃ„Ã´s new album The Flying Club Cup, “A Call To Arms,” is supposed to be a battle cry, but instead is reminiscent of an orchestra tuning up before a performance and never quite getting in tune. Following this introduction is an album heavily influenced by European folk tunes, French strongest of all.Despite this French influence, little French actually appears in the songs. A brief French film dialogue exchange is sampled in “Nantes,” and “A Sunday Smile” opens with a Frenchman saying “encore une fois,” (one more time). Several songs have titles which include French such as “Forks And Knives (La Fâˆšâ„¢te)” (the party) and “La Banlieue” (suburbia), but the actual lyrics of the songs are English. Accordions feature prominently on many tracks, making one feel like they might hear this music while at a sidewalk cafâˆšÂ© in Paris. Accordion, trumpet and ukulele are just a few of the instruments used here, and the cohesive sound they manage is impressive.
Unfortunately, lead singer, and creative force behind Beirut, Zach Condon, mumbles his way through most of the songs, making the lyrics on many tracks seem more like an unintelligible afterthought than a planned theme. “Nantes” and “Cherbourg” are written as companion pieces, but rather than complimenting each other, the repetitive lyricism seems lazy and monotonous.
No doubt Beirut will find an audience which appreciates their avant-garde, do-it-yourself sound and style, but right now they lack consistency and polish. All of the elements of a talented musician can be found in Condon, but he needs to focus on becoming a good singer/songwriter as well if he hopes to achieve wider appeal.