The songs still ring out with trumpets and french horns, a wurlitzer and ukulele, among many other instruments. So all is still gypsy and folk-like in the world of Zach Condon (the leader and brains behind Beirut). The difference between his accomplished and elaborate second album The Flying Club Cup from 2007's The Rip Tide is his more understated, simpler approach to songwriting this time round.
Oddly, though, it takes time to take in this short, nine-song album, because it's almost as if there is not enough going on despite the array of instruments being played. But on deeper listening the musical statements are in there, they are just stunningly spare and after a while they will tie a lovely tight bow around your quietly beating heart. Just wait.
While The Rip Tide is mostly forlorn in mood, another change is the breezy moments that take you by surprise - like the summery pop hit-in-waiting, Santa Fe (about Condon's hometown in dusty old New Mexico) and even a song with a name like Vagabond has a toe-tapping piano and trumpet-driven shuffle that gives way to harpsichord whimsy and a rousing folk frenzy.
The title track is a candidate for most beautiful song of the year, starting with plaintive piano and a wood block beat before taking off with regal brass, a deep sonorous cello, and Condon's dark yet lovely lines like, "so the waves and I found the rip tide". It is the standout moment on what could just be Beirut's pop album.
Verdict: The pop tide has turned for folk prodigy
- TimeOutBy Scott Kara @scottkara Email Scott