Zach Condon, aka Beirut, made quite a splash with his Eastern European-influenced debut long-player Gulag Orkestar back in May 2006. For his much-anticipated follow-up, Condon has changed tack and headed westwards and back in time to the Paris of a century ago to turn in another artfully crafted example of musical fetishism.
And yet, and yet! Rather disconcertingly after a short fanfare from what sounds suspiciously like an ancient shofar, Condon launches into his wistfully quavering opening track, 'Nantes', which sounds for all the world like The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon covering Black's 'Wonderful Life'. It's not long before Condon is layering his lovelorn laments with twitching percussion, doleful brass and weeping accordion, but the damage has already been done and the bubble burst.
Hannon's shadow falls across several tracks and there's the occasional hint of Rufus Wainwright, too, or perhaps that's wishful thinking as Condon's unrelentingly fey breast-beating and affected keening begins to sap the spirit.