They top charts back home in Ireland and have their songs played on American teen dramas, but there still exists a big gaping hole where Bell X1’s UK success should be. Unfortunately, that gaping hole looks set to stay put based on this record due to another big gaping hole where the potential hit singles should be.
‘The Great Defector’ may have charted nicely in Ireland, but if the UK didn’t buy ‘Rocky Took A Lover’ or ‘Flame’, they’re not going to buy its weird, folky, happy clappy vibe and oddball lyrics about underwired bras and cornettos.
On first listen, this whole album – particularly the second half – is really a bit bewildering. Their last record, ‘Flock’ was a bit of a grower but its immediate appeal was definitely greater than this.
The ingenuity and beauty of songs like ‘Amelia’, ‘Light Catches Your Face’ and ‘One Stringed Harp’ reveal themselves slowly and with perseverance. While rewarding, though, there’s no match for ‘Flock’ tracks like ‘Bad Skin Day’ and ‘Lamposts’ to be found.
Their happy occupation of a middle ground between Damien Rice and the Flaming Lips (yes, that’s a big bit of middle ground but Paul Noonan and co are happily picnicking right in the centre) continues gracefully enough, but this record just isn’t quite as good as its predecessors.