Album: Beirut, March Of The Zapotec (Pompeii)

The Independent's chief rock critic gives an exclusive preview of this month’s releases

Zach Condon’s follow-up to 2007’s acclaimed The Flying Club Cup takes the form of two EPs of drastically differing character yoked together on one CD.

The first, March Of The Zapotec, continues Beirut’s penchant for blending non-English folk musics with Western pop modes, comprising half a dozen pieces of Mexican funeral brass-band music fronted by Condon’s curious croon.

“The Akara” has the elegant gait of a dressage pony, and “On A Bayonet” has a more mournful character, while “The Shrew” is closer to classic oompah-band mode.

Throughout, a sense of shabby dignity pervades the music. The second half, Realpeople: Holland, is completely different, its five electropop exercises featuring pop-synth progressions that Vince Clarke would be pleased with, albeit a decade or two ago. It’s a game of two halves, the first proving the more original and thus more interesting.

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