on 26 July 2003
A gorgeous record that really is the 'find' of the summer! While The Thrills are the Irish band attracting maximum media attention right now (in the English press at least), Bell X1 (named after the first plane to break the sound barrier) are cutting a swathe themselves and, if I were a betting man, I'd suggest, are the better bet for the long haul. This is the 'Bellies' second album and some seven years since lead singer Paul Noonan teamed up with Damien Rice in Juniper. The time has been spent well. Noonan is a consumate talent. With a voice that can both soar and linger awhile, Noonan leads a band that combines an uptempo rock presence with a distinct sense of melancholy. Compare the fraught, jagged beat of White Water Song with the langourous and beautiful swoon of Eve, The Apple of My Eye, and you'll see what I mean. But both styles combine effortlessly to create a marvellous whole, so much so that Music in Mouth comes across as a perfectly crafted record. Over and above the recorded material, Bell X1 are also cracking live. Catch them, and this album now, in the future you'll have to look beyond the sound barrier to get close to them.
on 18 May 2004
i'll be honest. when i went to see Keane play live i had never heard of bell x1 but was blown away by them. in my opinion there live performence was better than Keane's and that says something. so the next day i immediatly rushed out to buy the album, still knowing very little about them but knowing there would at least be a couple of good tracks on the album (eve and i'll see your heart). the first thing i noticed was that it was produced by the now-famous Jamie cullum and that the lead singer and senior song writer, noonan, was the same man that was in Juniper with Damien Rice, who is also involved on the album, co-writing on Tongue. if you have just heard Eve then you will be expecting touching and clever lyrics with superb melodies and you certainly get that on this album but you also get much more. the first two tracks, Snakes And Snakes and alphabet soup both have a touch of a young radiohead. they both have catchy melodies and amusing and witty lyrics with comments such as "i need to smile like im pissing in your swimming pool" and "i'd say you'd like chiledren but you couldn't eat a whole one" you realise the song writing ability of noonan coupled with a brilliant sense of humour. Alphabet soup also offers you the one thing missing from indie rock these days - a banjo solo!!. after this we have the first of a couple of album songs in daybreak which is frankly too dull for my taste. then there is Eve, probably the best track on the album and one i find difficult to describe, a genuinely touching song with clever lyrics that you'll want to keep listening to. this is followed by Next To You, an average song, but more up beat than Eve which finishes with the superd lyric "i'm not over you, can i get back under". follow this with South of Her Shoulder, which is another witty song played mainly by a single guitar which is almost reminiscent of some old Paul Simon songs (without Garfunkel). Bound For Boston Hill is another album track which deserves listening too but never really gets out of 2nd gear. and then from somewhere bell x1 find some energy. the next three tracks, tongue, white water song and in every sunflower, pick up the pace of the album with tongue being the highlight as they go from quiet to a sudden eruption of noise, but not a row, it is pure adrenalin and energy. the album is finshed off with a superb track and a great choice for leadout track, I,ll See Your Heart and I'll Raise You Mine. another clever song with great lyrics and superb use of violins and trumpets which really finishes the album on a high. i've had this album almost a weak and havn't stopped listening to it. the only thing stopping this album getting 5 stars is the 2 album track becasue apart from that it is perfect in every way. a must for everyone who enjoys rock, indie or pretty much any other form of music. ENJOY!!
on 19 August 2003
Although this is the second outing for Ireland's own Coldplay, the name will be, in all likeliness, new to even the most enthusiastic of indie-rock fans. Even though the name may be new, the sound is familiar which will lead to endless comparisons by critics and fans alike. Being compared to Coldplay is a mixed bag - complement or criticism? Neither in this case. When Coldplay first appeared, a friend described them to me as 'Travis without the bull...' which is a perfectly apt (if somewhat shallow) description of the Southampton four-piece. When I first listened to this album after several claims that this band were The Thrills made more robust, it struck me that Bell X1 are to their jangly, whimsical compatriots what Coldplay were to Travis. No bull.
Furthermore (and somewhat confusingly), the infamous 'the new Radiohead' label has been firmly slapped on Bell X1's rump. It seems no-one has caught on that Radiohead do not play (soft) rock any more. Admittedly, at times Thom Yorke's voice could be the one crooning, and standout track Tongue could easily have been taken from OK Computer, which must be a complement by anyone's standards. But this is where the comparisons must stop, because the album, the music, deserves to have it's own identity.
Opening duo Snakes & Snakes and Alphabet Soup are happy-go-lightly whistle-along movements, whilst Daybreak is a hazy daydream on a hot summer's afternoon, calmly sipping Pina Colado in a hammock on some Carribean sand & sea landscape. The nylon West of Her Spine could be performed in a Texas ranch without raising any eyebrows, whilst the shuffling (and slightly haunting) Bound for Boston Hill wouldn't sound out of place on Blur's latest offering, Think Tank. The album ends with two balads, the better of the two being In Every Sunflower. Every listener will know exactly what Crosby, Geraghty & Noonan meant when they wrote 'I wouldn't swap the pain for never knowing you'. Honest and profane without being pretentious.
Verging on exceptional, the album falls slightly short in that it definately won't change the world. But then, who likes change?
on 24 July 2003
Two years ago, I was introduced to Bell X1's music by a friend of mine who knew the band. 'neither am i' as a debut album is a tour de force which will in future, no doubt, re-surface and be given the credit it is due as this band continues to rise and rise.
'Music in Mouth' is THE follow up album worth waiting for and continues to explore and evolve as 'neither am i' left off. Noonan's vocals are as continually haunting as ever on 'Eve, the Apple of my Eye'. The current single 'Tongue's' riffs and beats, reverberate as all the best singles should and the bouncing chords in 'White Water Song' rock you in its complete excellence. The wrenching emotion from 'In Every Sunflower' is beautiful and the twists of tale in 'I'll see your heart and I'll raise you mine' should bring a smile and thought to those who care to listen. Although moving in a musically different direction from their debut album, this direction is clearly up. With Bell X1's careful development of the sound their music is producing, it is obvious that this is a band that will continue to excel.
Having recorded the majority of this album in England, there is an obviously more polished sound to this album, which speaks of a maturity befitting the production of the songs and development of the character of this album.
Without doubt the best band to appear in Ireland in the past few years, this album should confirm Bell X1's status and rank them alongside Radiohead and Coldplay. With this album they should gain the exposure to a wider audience that they have long deserved.
on 15 September 2003
I saw this band at Reading this year, on the smallest stage in the middle of Friday afternoon, and they were the best band I saw all weekend.
I went straight out and bought their album, and it has been in my CD player ever since. It is one of those rare albums where every song is good. They cover an interesting range of styles but keep their own identity throughout. A nice blend of indie, rock, Irish folk, and electronica.
A lot of effort has been put into this album, and it is certainly one of the best I've heard this year.
on 25 July 2003
Most of you probably haven't heard of Bell X1 before, so before we get to the album itself, a quick potted history: once upon a time there was juniper, and juniper were good. Unfortunately there was a split and Damien Rice went solo. Paul Noonan emerged from behind the drumkit to take over vocal duties (don't worry, not at all like Phil Collins), and Bell X1 were born. This is actually their second album, but their first with Island.
Whilst the debut album ‘Neither am I’ had some fine moments, it didn’t function as a cohesive unit. This, however, is the sound of a band at the height of their powers, and those heights are really quite high. If you like Radiohead, dEUS or Coldplay, you’ll find this album staying in your cd player for a long time to come. The first real highlight of the album is ‘Alphabet Soup’, the song that will do for the banjo what ‘Losing my Religion’ did for the mandolin. And, lets face it, any song that namechecks Maud Gonne (WB Yeats’ muse) can’t be bad. Daybreak could easily have sat in the middle of ‘A Rush Of Blood…’ and not looked out of place.
‘Eve, the apple of my eye’ is the first of the epic ballads, about a love gone wrong (aren’t they all?) It’s a showcase of the fantastic lyrics that the boys come up on a regular basis, as Paul Noonan reflects that ‘The only thing we share / Is the same sky’. ‘West of her spine’ is a nice piece of country hokum, with someone who sounds like Lee Hazelwood doing backing vocals…
‘Tongue’, which may be familiar to some of you from it’s airplay on The Amp is another stand-out track. It bears a resemblance to Radiohead’s ‘National Anthem’ but it actually pre-dates that song, the fact that Rice is co-credited with the writing giving it away. They really cut loose on the manic ‘White Water Song’ before the album takes a more down-tempo turn for the closing two ballads.
‘In Every Sunflower’ is another song about lost love, however this is made all the more poignant by the fact that the subject of the song, Uaneen Fitzsimons, one of Irelands top DJ’s was tragically killed in a car crash. It’s their finest song to date, a fitting tribute to a lady who is sorely missed by many. The lines
‘I wouldn’t swap the pain / for never knowing you / I wouldn’t swap the pain / It was worth it for the view’ could bring a lump to the throat of even the most hardened cynic.
Go buy the album. Go see them live. It’s taken the UK a long time to catch on to Damien Rice Don’t leave it that long to buy this album.
on 2 March 2004
I've just returned from seeing Bell x1 supporting aqualung at liverpool academy and i am stunned by their performance!
Aqualung were great, but i was expecting that - the surprise was the most accomplished support band i have ever seen. The entire crowd was standing in awe at the beautiful, mellow sound that the band were creating.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the gig was the last track - i'll see your heart and i'll raise you mine. It had my heart in my mouth and is, so far, the best song i've ever heard live
So, in conclusion - Bell X1 have excelled themselves with this cohesive and emotionally stimulating album, and have set a high standard for their industry peers to beat!
on 11 July 2004
I've had this album for about two months and I honestly don't know what I did without the freakin thing. The mix of excellent songs and both beautiful and witty lyrics make this album the best thing to come out of Ireland in a loooong time and for the first tim ever I can say I have a favourite band, Bell X1. Eve, Apple of my Eye is the masterpiece of this album but does not overshadow the rest of the proceedings by any mean. Snakes and Snakes, West of her Spine, in every sunflower and I'll see ure heart, wow. Honourable mention has to go to Next to you, tongue, whitewater song and alphabet soup which has the best banjo (yes banjo) solo ever. The only two songs that dont make me want to kiss my cd player are the gloomy daybreak and gloomier bound for boston hill but they still have that electricity that pours from this album. A healthy mix of loudness(tongue,whitewater song) , beauty (eve (what a song, In every sunflower, I'll see your heart) and everything in between (Snakes and snakes, alphabet soup) to staisfy nearly all types of fans. These guys also rock the hizouse live, my peeps at oxegen no wat im talkin about.
on 19 May 2006
Up until now Bell X1 have existed very much in the shadow of Juniper, the much-hyped band they used to be before vocalist Damien Rice left to pursue a successful solo career. Well, it's time for that to change - for the second album from the resilient Kildare lads is so good, it renders their past history completely redundant. A hugely self-assured collection of intense yet fragile love songs, Music in Mouth impresses on just about every level. And while Paul Noonan's songwriting contains echoes of everyone from Radiohead to Talking Heads, his erudite lyrics and Irish cultural references give Bell X1 a character all of their own. With the singer-songwriter genre dominating the Dublin scene at the moment, it's about time for bands to make a comeback - and Bell X1 should be leading the charge
on 18 May 2004
Alas, this band shal always be muttered in the same breath as ex-frontman Damien Rice. However, since his departure it would seem the boys have crafted what can only be described as a fabulous record. Acessible and very listenable the able oozes a weary vibe as you move from one guitar driven rock song to a smooth beautiful track to a whimsical lyric powered tune. it all flows, joins and links together effortlessly. the album is simply wonderful. i'm a bit of a fan of lyrics in songs and this one does very well in that department. well written lyrics work well along side beautifuil melodies to make an album that Damien Rice wishes he could make on his own. but he can't. ha.
go Bell x1.