Album Reviews

Bell X1


Artist:     Bell X1

Album:     Arms

Label:     Belly Up

Release Date:     10/14/2016


After six previous studio albums, Bell X1’s greatest claim to fame may be the fact that most of those involved were originally in a band with Damien Rice. That is not to deny the success they’ve gained so far. They are headliners in their native Ireland and second only to U2 in terms of airplay, but their recognition factor has grown on these shores at a far more modest pace.

Arms could very well change all that, but having said that its charms creep up subtly and slowly, sweeping over its listeners even before they fully realize they have actually been enticed. This is partly the result of a quiet surge that allows the music to build and then peak without any over-arched intent. Songs such as “Bring Me A Fireking,” “I Go Where You Go,” “Take Your Sweet Time” and “Sons and Daughters” convey a melodic quality that is understated yet endearing, emphatic just enough to billow for full impact. Most of the time the songs do not blossom until they approach the end, one reason why the effect creeps up in such a gradual way. Regardless, the percolating tempos and buoyant choruses often seem transient. That’s the mark of musicians who knows how to hold back when necessary, so as to make the end effect all the more enduring.

Bell X1 brings to mind the Beautiful South, Pale Fountains and other bands that tend to favor ambiance over engagement. In the end, Bell X1 achieves both.

– Lee Zimmerman

Got something to say?