Island - 2003 - 50 minutes

Big records come, big records go; the biggest treats are those you weren't expecting. Like this one. Nothing on Bell X1's routine debut suggested they were capable of this but as 'Music in Mouth' knows and shows, things don't always turn out as expected.

It sees the quartet pushing themselves in different directions and coming up with a joy and sadness that prove as contagious as each other. If they sound grown but not fully on 'Tongue' and 'White Water Song' then the rest of the tracks shows a band thinking outside the a,b,c of guitar rock.

The likes of 'Snakes & Snakes' and 'West of her Spine' bounce on a ramshackle, romantic charm that's only heightened by the shade offered by 'Eve, The Apple of My Eye' and 'Bound for Boston Hill'. Even then, the class of the latter are eclipsed by the closing tracks. 'In Every Sunflower' and 'I'll See Your Heart & I'll Raise You Mine', may seem to offer more heartache than hope but if this has any advice, it's to keep on keeping on. And no one can hear that too often.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Snakes And Snakes - Alphabet Soup – Daybreak - Eve, The Apple Of My Eye - Next To You - West Of Her Spine - Bound For Boston Hill - Tongue - Whitewater Song - In Every Sunflower - I'll See Your Heart And I'll Raise You Mine