31 March 2021, The Tablet

The Passport Office made allowances for my being a bad sketch of a mythical being


The Passport Office made allowances for my being a bad sketch of a mythical being
 

Maggie O’Farrell, the novelist, chose Elephant Gun by Beirut on Desert Island Discs. Back in 2007, when Elephant Gun was released, I had high hopes for the band (which was pretty much Zach Condon on his own playing the ukulele, trumpet, organ and other instruments). Even better was the track Postcards from Italy with a sound like first impressions of the Balkans and lyrics by a 20-year-old that conveyed a nostalgia for a world not ours: “In my good times / There were always golden rocks to throw / At those who / Those who admit defeat.”

In 2009, Hockey was even more of a flash in the pan. I recommend a video from the Reading Festival in which its singer Ben Grubin (now called Ben Wyeth) seemed so hungover that he could hardly speak, let alone sing. Yet the charm of Song Away came over. I liked the lines: “I stole my personality from an anonymous source / And I’m getting paid for it too. I don’t feel bad about that.”

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