"A Sunday Smile" by Beirut
Zach Condon's makeshift world-folk outfit Beirut surveyed the exotic oompah and frostbitten bar-balladry of Eastern Europe on last year's Gulag Orkestar, a charming exercise that never quite transcended its "exercise-ness." Condon dragged Beirut into French cabarets for the follow-up, The Flying Club Cup, an album that still leads more with its head than its heart, though the level of sophistication Condon achieves bridges a lot of gaps. As a song-cycle inspired by different French cities and their attendant moods, The Flying Club Cup moves gracefully from homemade waltzes laced with pumping accordion to more elegant pop songs like "Cliquot" and complex Euro-jazz like "In The Mausoleum." Condon's theatrical croon and rich string arrangements hold the album together while it tells a musical story about the acculturation of the boozy.