Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Bellyup
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
By the arrival of 2013's Chop Chop, Bell X1 had been through more than a couple of adjustments to their sound, moving from reflective folk-rock through bold, synth-aided anthems and atmospheric ruminations. On their seventh studio album, the self-produced Arms, they offer a brighter art-rock that accentuates groove and texture. The stimulating "Fail Again, Fail Better" gets things moving with quirky samples, synths, a skittering drum cadence, and encouragement via lyrics like "Take the good luck, take the bad luck, and spin it around.
A one-time stint with Damien Rice aside, Ireland’s Bell X1 have made precious little headway on this side of the Atlantic. After six albums, they’re yet to ratchet up their recognition to any degree of significant standing. Back home, however, they’re practically superstars, with headliner status and ongoing airplay. Given that homegrown success, it’s somewhat surprising that they’ve been unable to translate that to more than modest returns from the American market.
“So much to hear / So much to hear / Take your sweet time”, Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan sings on “Take Your Sweet Time”, the aptly-named centerpiece of the Irish trio’s latest LP Arms. Delivered over an incandescent guitar motif, what could be called the aural equivalent of a twinkle of sunlight reflected on glass, it’s a lyric that says a lot about the record as a whole, as well as the band that produced it. This is patient music, deliberate music, music that speaks through texture and subtle variegations rather than speaker-obliterating volume and melodic maximalism.