- Release date
- 8th October 2007
Young folk genius takes his orchestra from the Balkans to Paris on majestic second album
Beirut, or rather, 21-year-old New Mexican Zach Condon’s first album Gulag Orkestar was one of the word-of-mouth successes of 2006. Rooted in Balkan folk, its rousing swirl of accordions, mandolins and brass reeked of old world Europe and oozed a glorious, melodic melancholia, enriched by Condon’s astoundingly world-weary croon. It was quite a record and sounded like nothing else around.
The same can be said for this much-anticipated follow-up, where Condon has now turned his gaze to France – and in particular, the chanson music of the likes of Jacques Brel. Grand and romantic, Beirut’s trademark waltzes and funereal marches this time around are suffused with an unquenchable joy. Nantes, A Sunday Smile and Forks And Knives all possess a sweeping lightness of touch different to the sepia-tented heaviness of the debut. Owen Pallett’s soaring string arrangements are responsible for much of this, as is perhaps Condon’s inspiration for the album – a 1910 photo of a hot air balloon race setting off from Paris. Elegant Parisian carousels by night or sunny days by the Seine could easily provide the visual backdrop to such a magical and beguiling release.
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