Willed into existence when the commercial needs of the mid-20th-century record industry required something in the intermediate price point between a single and a then-pricy album, the lowly EP has developed into the musical equivalent of the novella. The precocious Zach Condon here takes advantage of the medium's invitation to stretch and experiment with a pair of EPs, one credited to his main project, Beirut, the other to his nom-de-bedroom knob twiddler, realpeople. A canny British reviewer likened Condon to a Wes Anderson character leading an endless exploration of other cultures and times (previous Beirut projects concerned Gypsies and 1920s bohemians) in a vain attempt to escape the barren white suburb of the mind. Zapotecs
is another such foray into exotica; this time the destination is an imaginary Mexico populated by funeral-marching bands and indigenous individuals who seem to be into Nino Rota. Holland
's synth-pop, on the other hand, is Condon's thinly veiled homage to another overachieving man of many concepts, Stephin Merritt. Like the most artistically successful EPs (Magical Mystery Tour
, the Who's surf-rockers, the Beta Band's glory-days output), these do the job without overstaying their welcomes.