BELL X1 – Bloodless Coup (ADA/Warner)

May 19, 2011 by  

When the not-so-amicable fall of previous band Juniper gave rise to Bell X1, it also unleashed a band hell bent on finally showing their true colours. Now on their fifth studio album, it’s reassuring to find that nothing much has changed in 12 years, at least not deep down where it counts.

On the surface however, things seem a little different as we are greeted by a new dimension of synth-based overtones, offering a modern edge to a group who are finding it easier to push their own envelope now that releases are being made by their label BellyUp. ‘Bloodless Coup’ is now the second self-released album for Bell X1, and its one that sees them experiment without going too far overboard.

In fact, more often than not, the electronic vibes that greet us falls away to reveal classy, well-crafted songs that are soaked in their own melodies, and build on solid foundations which we are all quite familiar with. And at the backbone of Bell X1 still remains that steadfast approach to writing that perfect song.

Composed against an uneasy backdrop of a home nation in turmoil, Bell X1’s approach to this album isn’t one of protest; instead opting for reflection and a call to arms that neatly befits the ideals of the Emerald Isle itself. Shoulder to shoulder, we’ll make it through.

And so the album is a collection of tracks written from all manner of perspectives, mostly all of them pointing toward a simple rule of thumb; nearly all are a reflective ode to love, whether it’s lost or found. The difference is that it’s real, not sappy and there is a huge feeling of intimacy and spirit. ‘Hey Anna Lena’ is a song about playground romance but also childhood in general and how simple things can seem, and ultimately be. The album’s single ‘Velcro’ touches on well meaning themes of togetherness and though maybe just sticking points in a rich list of well-penned clichés, it’s easy to forgive the Irish trio for this each time.

Stand out tracks ‘Sugar High’ and ‘Safer than Love’ both adequately demonstrate these ideas, and create more of the vibe that Bell X1 have become accustomed to creating, whilst ‘Nightwatchmen’ and ‘The Trailing Skirts of God’ show the contemplative and tender side of this band are very much still there at heart.

You don’t find much in the way fully paid up indie rock anthems, the likes of which endeared this band to the masses upon the release of ‘Flock’, nor do you get any radio-friendly soft rock which has always been seen as the other side to Bell X1. Instead, we get a view from a perch right in the middle, hinting at a new direction.

The sound is less organic than that of previous albums and for and many Bell X1 are still an undiscovered treasure waiting to be found. But even though this a little way short of their best work, there certainly is a lot to find here.

[rating:3]


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