Beirut, March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland
The most ambitious work yet from a bedroom-pop world traveler
There are world-travelers, and then there are escapists — those dreamers who'd gladly trade their frequent flier miles to sit at the bar, imagining what faraway places must be like. Until recently, Beirut's Zach Condon rallied for the latter camp: his rich, Balkan-folk-inspired debut Gulag Orkestar and its clever French-chanson-style follow-up The Flying Club Cup played with American fantasies about old-world Europe. But for the first half of his ambitious new double EP, the 23-year-old New Yorker ventured across the border. Recorded in Teotitlan del Valle, Mexico — with help from a local 19-piece brass band and a translator — March of the Zapotec pulses with the bright, whirling sound of a small-town mariachi band. From the celebratory horns of "My Wife" to the oom-pah march of "The Shrew," it positively thrums with life, churning with the rhythms of late-night buskers and backyard quinceaneras. Condon downshifts tempos for Holland, a baroque synth-pop mini-album credited to his pre-Beirut pseudonymn Realpeople. But quiet headphone thrills abound. With layers of accordion, harmonium, and vintage electronics, the five-song set feels every bit as warm as March of Zapotec. Yet Condon recorded it at his parents 'house, following the logic that indie-pop icons have honored for decades: when your bedroom's this romantic, why go abroad?