Bell X1: Bloodless Coup
In America, the band Bell X1 is known primarily for two reasons: having once been in a group with Damien Rice, and having made the song that played during a lesbian kiss on The O.C. However, this tireless trio’s latest offering shows why they are second only to U2 in popularity in their native Ireland.
Frontman Paul Noonan’s voice is smooth while sometimes indulging in David Byrne-influenced staccato delivery that meshes well with the synths and distortion that make Bloodless Coup Bell X1’s most adventurous album to date. Dominic Phillips’ bass forms a solid, snaky spine for the tracks to flesh out under, and multi-instrumentalist David Geraghty also provides smoky vocals that offset Noonan’s beautifully.
But the standout feature of this group is Noonan’s pen. “Can I get a witness?” he belt out while describing a shotgun wedding in “Hey Anna Lena.” Lead single “Velcro” is steeped in modern references, from watching YouTube videos to current airport security measures. “4 Minute Mile” lists the accomplishments Noonan can do without, going from how he will “never have a salad at McDonalds” to never he will he have his own fragrance or “be proper famous.” His eye for wit and symmetry shines through in even the most simplistic of moments, such as in “74 Swans” when he says, “I thought you were right there with me, on my left side.”
As is always the case with Bell X1, there’s a remarkable amount of layer and depth to the lyrics. If you want to simply listen for good indie music, you may do so, or you can pick apart the references and try to spot them all. Either way, brilliance is clear from the first listen.