Around the World with Beirut

Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Nantes"
  • Artist: Beirut
  • CD: The Flying Club Cup
  • Genre: Art-Pop
300 Beirut mastermind Zach Condon

Beirut mastermind Zach Condon traffics in a new genre that could be called poignant ballroom cabaret pop. Danelle Manthey hide caption

itoggle caption Danelle Manthey

The music that springs from the brain of 21-year-old Beirut mastermind Zach Condon continues to defy categorization. On last year's Gulag Orkestar, Condon and his oversized band of New York-based indie world-music explorers sounded as if they'd been stranded not in Brooklyn, but somewhere near the Ukraine (but only after making a pit stop in Paris).

That enigmatic, unclassifiable quality continues on "Nantes," from The Flying Club Cup. The haunted-house organ riff that opens the song sounds like a setup for a variation on modern garage rock. But when the tango beat enters soon after, "Nantes" transforms into something else altogether: a new genre that could be called poignant ballroom cabaret pop, with Condon's drowsy voice intoning over it.

The actual words Condon sings ("In a year, a year or so / this will slip into the sea") are elliptical, and the snippet of French dialogue halfway through doesn't make much sense, either. But in keeping with the way Beirut emerged suddenly as a bloggers' favorite, seemingly out of nowhere yet fully formed, "Nantes" is a thing of mysterious, alluring beauty — just like a lot of pop before the Internet, too.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

This column originally ran on Oct. 15, 2007.

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The Flying Club Cup

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The Flying Club Cup
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Beirut

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