Usually Colour Matt and I agree on matters musical, and I have some sympathy with his position that Zach Condon’s Beirut can feel a little like an exercise. And yet Condon has made some wonderful music in this vein – both the Gulag Orkestar and The Flying Club Cup were replete with very fine tunes and not a little sublime arrangement. Perhaps it is true that, were it not for his lo fi trappings, Condon would like be condemned as a novelty act; and yet precisely those trappings tend to suggest something more than mere appropriation is at work in his music.
Disappointment is therefore the only reaction to make to the double CD Condon has recently released, and which Matt mentions in that post. Half the sort of thing one expects from Condon – a Beirut CD with parping brass and indigenous folk stylings – and half an intermittently disastrous foray into electronic under the name Realpeople – ‘No Dice’ in particular sounds like it was put together in five minutes for a kiddie disco.
That latter disc’s only standout track is the one Matt mentions, ‘Venice’. ‘My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille’ starts out divertingly enough, and remains lyrically impressive, but it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that Jens Lekman might yet have done a better job. The former disc starts strongly, meanwhile, ‘El Zócalo’ short but evocatively chaotic, and ‘La Llorona’ simply a very finely put together song. Even this more persuasive set of songs seems somehow incomplete, however, and though it ends on a jolly waltz, I was left with the overall impression that Condon had made some missteps. It is possible that his consistency on previous releases has simply spoiled us.