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Bell X1 – Bloodless Coup

Bell X1, Bloodless Coup

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

IRELAND’S Bell X1 have long been one of our favourite bands, especially in light of our adoration for their album Flock.

A couple of LPs on (including their most successful, self-released LP, Blue Lights on the Runway) they now look set to go cosmic with their fifth album, Bloodless Coup, which also forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew about them!

Far from being content to trade on the same formula, Paul Noonan and co have decided to mix the organic sound of old with the digital outlook of now, thereby enabling electronic influences to come to the fore more than on previous releases.

It’s an approach that served Yeah Yeah Yeahs well and it seems like a natural evolution… replacing the former Radiohead comparisons with something of a Talking Heads vibe.

But make no mistake, the new material here is very much Bell X1, mixing the personal and introspective with the more expansive and crowd-pleasing.

The former is best exemplified by the former single Velcro, which drops a funky electronic pulse, some slick beats and a rousing chorus over observations about sticking together and remaining resolute through the darker points in life.

Noonan’s vocals are terrific, while the lack of pronounced guitars doesn’t seem to take anything away from their sound at all.

Album opener Hey Anna Lena, on the other hand, opens amid an electronic surge and some subtle piano chords that immediately hook you in, before turning into an epic tale of love and escape, buoyed by Noonan’s falsetto vocal. It’s a lengthy opening… but one that’s disarmingly brilliant.

Later on, Nightwatchmen finds Noonan coming over more personal and reflective, with a melancholy guitar riff providing the backing for his heartfelt central vocals. It’s a slow-builder, though, that gradually layers in an epic sound of shimmering beauty.

Built To Last, too, is surrounded by the optimism of a strong relationship, but delivered in a subtle, simplistic fashion that, again, endears you to the song in general. Early on, Noonan almost comes over all Peter Gabriel – but such is the emotion within the lyrics that you can’t help but comparisons are entirely justified.

The subtle acoustic guitar work on this track is also great, and nicely accompanied by a firm electronic pulse.

Elsewhere, the personal is substituted for some more social awareness that’s designed to reflect the state of turmoil that Ireland currently finds itself in, as well as the need for change.

As such, there’s an angry vibe surrounding the rousing rock of 4 Minute Mile, which is rife with emotive sentiment and a more retro vibe, and a soul-searching sensibility on the practicalities of modern life and where love fits in on the synth-led Safer Than Love.

But no matter what Bell X1 are doing, there’s an inherent quality and thoughtfulness that makes every track worth hearing and a potential classic in waiting. This is a great album and a welcome evolution of sound that really should send this band into the big time!

Read our interview with Bell X1

Download picks: Hey Anna Lena, Velcro, Nightwatchmen, Built To Last, 4 Minute Mile, Safer Than Love, 74 Swans

Track listing:

  1. Hey Anna Lena
  2. Velcro
  3. Nightwatchmen
  4. Sugar High
  5. Built To Last
  6. 4 Minute Mile
  7. Safer Than Love
  8. The Trailing Skirts of God
  9. Haloumi
  10. 74 Swans

  1. Love Bell X1 and loving the new sound. Loving this appreciative review too

    James    May 6    #
  2. Loving this album. The Trailing Skirts of God is an epic

    Brrian    May 12    #