Having travelled to, or at least borrowed the music of, the Balkans, France and Italy for previous albums, the latest postcard from Zach Condon’s musical alias Beirut arrives from northern Norway, and the titular town of Hadsel – luckily possessed of a church with a cool old organ. These exploratory tootlings form the basis of Hadsel’s songs, augmented over lockdown in Berlin (natch) with French horn, keyboard burps and Condon’s trademark multi-tracked troubadour vocalising.
Only So Many Plans touches on the pandemic, though, and then only obliquely: overall, this is a collection that creates a kind of cloistered calm, oddly expansive in its hermetic world. Bringing out the brass and ukulele harkens the music back to the Beirut of old, circa much-loved debut from 2006 Gulag Orkestar, though Hadsel stands crisper and more quietly consistent, a solo album in the snow. Next stop: Antarctica, or the moon.
words WILL STEEN