Five albums in and still no sign of a Snow Patrol style breakthrough for Kildare band Bell X1. However, this solid and varied effort could be their strongest bet yet. Maybe that's because they've put away their Talking Heads collection or maybe its because Bell X1 have decided to concentrate on distilling small, quiet moments of inner thought into some very fine and stately songs.
At their best, as on Hey Anna Lena, which builds from the slippery pitter patter of drum machines into a shimmering epic, Bell X1 are slick practitioners of rock with a college degree. At their worst, as on Velcro, a cringe worthy tale of romance and the demands of the touring circuit, the soppy pop just becomes too sickly sweet. There is, however, a refreshingly adventurous spirit in the musical approach and the ear for detail is impressive.
Sugar High has a disconcerting metallic grate to it, 4 Minute Mile piles on the distorted rock, and Safer Than Love is a grin-inducing slice of loping computer funk. Cerebral vocalist Paul Noonan is better when he’s being mischievous rather than when he’s playing the quirky romantic or trying to quantify the Irish condition as on The Trailing Skirts of God but it’s hard not to cast Bell X1 as Radiohead for girls. No coup here but it’s not totally bloodless either.