The Flying Club Cup
(Ba Da Bing)
Beirut released two albums last year and principal player Zach Condon was hospitalized for extreme exhaustion, Flying Club Cup sounds remarkably unrushed and energetic. String arrangements by Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire, Final Fantasy) and the surprisingly sweet addition of a variety of weird instruments that sound old and not all that well-maintained gives the album (and Condon) an interesting new direction. FCC is an enjoyable, complex album that we’ll probably still be puzzling out when, given the 21-year-old Condon’s insane productivity, he releases another record or seven.
“Unnecessary” is the main word that comes to mind when listening to the Friend EP, which is chockfull of “alternate mixes” of previously released songs and cover versions of Grizzly Bear songs performed by other artists.
With few exceptions, these alternate mixes feature only slight instrumental or tempo changes, and are not complete reworkings of the songs. GB fans will definitely want to have the ultra-creepy cover version of the Carol King-penned spouse-abuse celebration “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss),” and a disorienting cover of “Knife” by the Atlas Sound (a side project of Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox), but there’s not much more here worth a second listen.
“Jónsi” Birgisson’s gorgeous voice remains Sigur Rós’s best instrument, although Hvarf, a compilation album of mostly unreleased studio songs, finds the band (Jónsi most definitely included) at the height of its instrumental mastery. The band often ventures so far into virtuoso mode as to get flat-out proggy, and it’s about time.
Complicated and oh-so-pretty, Hvarf is definitely worth multiple listens. Its companion, Heim, isn’t bad, but this disc of acoustic versions of previously released material, heavily borrowed from Ágætis Byrjun, offers nothing very new sounding. Fans might want the disc for times when they’re feeling too mellow for the original studio albums, perhaps when they’re about to go into a coma. •