If Zach Condon had been around when the film score of Amélie was being written, the Beirut frontman would have given Yann Tiersen a run for his money. The French stone skimmer's Montmartre romance would have lost little accompanied by the 21-year-old's new single Elephant Gun, especially the two unreleased tracks on the b-side, Transatlantique and the Jacques Brel song Le Moribond.
Of the two previously unreleased tracks Le Moribond is the more interesting. Condon takes Brel's bittersweet tale of a dying soldier's farewell at a cracking pace in this live rendition in, I am reliably informed, a not bad French accent.
If the tune sounds familiar it is because Terry Jacks stripped it of its soul for the saccharine Seasons in The Sun. Thank the gods Condon has stuck to the original French. Brel's original is an ironic observation on the life and loves of a man marching to his death, a march summed up in Beirut's punchy accordion accompanied by war-like trumpet.
Brel, alongside klezmer, has exerted a strong influence on Condon's writing. Not just in his judicial use of those staples of the French torch singer, accordion, piano and trumpet, but lyrically, as both Transatlantique and Elephant Gun exemplify. Both are poetic, bittersweet and wistful, but never - Jacks take note - saccharine.
Another influence is apparent on Transatlantique. In the plaintive vocal there are echoes of those two great songsmiths Morrissey and Neil Hannon.
The song provides a neat platform on which Condon's vocal agility, so often eclipsed by his musical accomplishments, is able to radiate. It will leave the hair on the back of your neck standing.