Members from the likes of Beirut, The Arcade Fire and Belle & Sebastian have played a role in creating Flare’s (aka Flare Acoustic Arts League) diverse and brilliantly produced third album Cut. They lead on from the likes of The New Pornographers and The Hidden Cameras in showing that good pop music does not have to be formulaic. In fact, each of the songs on Cut manages to stand out as unique. This diversity accounts for a lot of its charm but equally accounts for its few flaws.
Beghtol’s dark humour is evident throughout. The opening song, documenting a murderous gay ripper, has the lines “another body / dragged from the river / missing its heart/ and most of its liver / well it’s enough to make you shiver with glee/ if you’re me” sang in a disconcertingly cheerful manner. This dark wit provides the adhesive in accommodating for some of the more peculiar songs on Cut. ‘Ballad of Little Brown Bear’, a less than innocent nursery rhyme and perhaps the most peculiar song, initially seems totally out of place. Upon more listens it becomes a focal point allowing some great songs to really shine through.
‘Hands of Fire’ is one of these songs. The surprisingly upbeat melodies are reminiscent of the Canadian gay indie-folksters The Hidden Cameras, who also played host to a number of notable musicians, including Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy). The brass instruments, tinkling glocks and fluttering flutes make ‘Hands of Fire’ a truly uplifting perfect-pop song. There are countless other superb songs on Cut, including the chiming ‘4F’ and the heavenly ‘Love Finds Andy Warhol’ in which Beghtol and friends (including Zach Condon) unify in a climactic chorus citing their heroes and heroines.
Cut provides an insight into the life of the New York aesthetes, at times painting a dark picture of life in New York, particularly as a gay man. In other’s it provides a want for unity and love. The marriage of these distinctive ideas into what is a refreshing and innovative pop album displays Beghtol’s concept with a brilliant eloquence and charm.
Words: Jonathan Wilson