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The Flying Club Cup

50 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 9, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

THE FLYING CLUB CUP is Beirut's homage to French culture, fashion history and music. Saoking up the likes of Francois Hardy, Charles Aznavour and most notably Jacques Brel.

Beirut's second LP purportedly takes inspiration from French chanson of yesteryear (as opposed to the Balkan folk of yesteryear). Bandleader Zach Condon has found a new home in Paris, and a new muse as well, quickly absorbing fodder from the likes of Francois Hardy or Jacques Brel. The music remains quite recognizably Beirut--in all its oom-pa glory--but the production value is stepped up a notch. It's through the dense arrangements that it reaches new heights, this without question being the fullest offering yet. The band appeared on Owen Pallet's (Final Fantasy/Arcade Fire) new album in exchange for the use of Arcade Fire's Masonic church studio, along with the exotic pile of instruments within. Pallet ended up contributing several string arrangements and the band made full use of the studio. The result is a truly orchestral take on the simpler gypsy stomp of Gulag Orkestar or the straight-up eight-piece live band of the Lon Gisland EP. Opener "Nantes" features a perfectly broken organ and introduces the wealth of percussion that continues throughout the album, as well as some samples of French TV or radio (the most explicit Franco-features are these sampled tidbits). Waltzing glockenspiels give way to a celebratory, raucous chorus on "La Banlieu." "Un Dernier Verre" features a skittering, jazzy piano bit (in 3/4 time, natch). The Flying Club Cup lacks the immediate hits that made Gulag Orkestar explode (like "Postcards from Italy" or "Mount Wroclai"). It works as an album rather than just a collection of songs. It's a more pensive presentation--dare I say it: more mature. Beirut remains mind-boggling work for a 21-year-old, and it's exciting to watch Condon's musical palette expand as he gathers the life experience to match his voice. --Jason Pace

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 9, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ba Da Bing
  • ASIN: B000UJ48XG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,271 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Beirut have always been all about Europe. Ever since Zach Condon started mingling electronica and indie-rock with traditional East-European music, his little band has been redolent of the old world.

And though "The Flying Club Cup" has a more modern flavour to some of its songs, the feeling of wistful, melancholy nostalgia still hangs heavily over these exquisitely orchestrated pop tunes. Think early twentieth-century France, as seen through sepia photographs and a band's sad tunes.

It opens with a haunting chorus of wailing horns, before switching to the smooth, swaying melody of "Nantes." Condon sings mournfully, "Well it's been a long time/long time now/since I've seen you smile/and I'll gamble away my fright... and in a year, a year or so/this will slip into the sea..."

It's much the same throughout the remaining songs, which tend to be bittersweet in tone, with a backdrop of horns and stately pop rhythms. Mellow dance tunes, Eastern European marches, mournful accordion-piano ballads, and pretty folky tunes. Not to mention, of course, combinations of all of the above.

In the second half, we're even graced with some upbeat songs -- the twittering violin and swirling melody of "In The Mausoleum." And the sprightliest music on the album is "Un Dernier Verre (Pour La Route)," a peppy pop tune that sounds like something Snoopy would dance to as the World War I flying ace.

If I were to compare Condon and Beirut to any other artist, it would probably be Sufjan Stevens -- polished, multilayered music with rich vocals. But the music of "The Flying Club Cup" is all nostalgia, bittersweet and weariness, mingled with a rich, over-the-top quality. It's so much BIGGER than Beirut's past work -- in sound, in scope, in feeling.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Baus on August 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Listening to The Flying Cup Club crystallized an old memory from my undergraduate college days (long, long ago). I was taking a philosophy course on aesthetics. On the first day, the professor asked: "What separates animals from people?"

Some of the class resorted to an answer that relied on biology, which was the same thing as answering "nothing." Some said tool use was a distinctive trait of people. This was just plain wrong. They had forgotten watching chimps on nature documentaries use grass stalks to fish termites out of their mounds. I also didn't have a good answer. Class dismissed without a valid response. Only while walking away from class that afternoon did the answer occur to me: art. Art is the one activity that differentiates humans from the rest of the living world.

The work of Beirut is a monument to humanity's claim of singularity. It conveys a deep sense of longing that transmutes a morning commute in a used sedan into a beautiful event. It draws inspiration from a reality that claims civility as a virtue and talent as the key to success. It is a reality we need. Go buy it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Chow-Stuart on October 15, 2007
Format: Audio CD
This album is just beautiful: tender, fresh, surprising, original, stirring. My wife saw them live last week and I only wish I could have gone, too! For a wonderful taste of the songs, visit the album website ([...] which has live videos crafted by La Blogotheque and featuring the band (principally 20 year old singer and songwriter Zach Condon) in incredibly simple yet mysteriously beautiful settings, most if not all in Brooklyn. The first track/video Nantes has the camera following him down the seemingly unending stairs of a fabulous semi-abandoned industrial building as his voice drifts in and out and various musicians appear at various points on the stairwell. Magical.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Munns on March 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This is their second LP release, and by far their best release to date.

Critics are quick to say Beirut's sound is Euro-stylized by influences like Jacques Brel and François Hardy. They're eager to compare the band's frontman, Zach Condron, to Scott Walker. It won't be long before they liken Beirut to the Tindersticks had Stuart Staples turned queer.

But "The Flying Club Cup" proved Zach Condon has developed a musical style beyond compare.

Whereas "Gulag Orkestar" showed that the self-ordained small time American band could meld Macedonian folk sounds with romantic classical European music stylings and bourgeoise bohemian sophistication, "The Flying Club Cup" uses this melded sound as the departure point toward a far more striking occurrence: style defined without subculture.

Timeless, ageless, genderless, cultureless, songs like "Cliquot" and "The Penalty" make "The Flying Club Cup" an album that could have come out of almost any place in the world at any point in history.

But it's not just universal in those senses. Perhaps because of frontman Zach Condon's sophisticated, mature air and voice, it was refreshing and unexpected to hear him sing such honest lyrics about love. It was, well, sweet. Better yet, it is why I think "The Flying Club Cup" is nothing short of genius.

In sum, "The Flying Club Cup": Beirut's balkan-gypsy-folk-french-euro-pop music style renowned in their first LP release, made even better with more mature lyrics for the young at heart.
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