Album Review: Bell X1 – ARMS

Bell X1 - Band shot

Intelligent and inventive Irish band Bell X1 return with their new studio album “ARMS”, released in the UK via Belly Up Records. This is the band’s seventh studio album and is a fantastically assured and consistent follow-up to 2013’s acclaimed “Chop Chop”, which became their third #1 album on the Irish Album Charts and their fourth consecutive album to be nominated for a Choice Music Prize for “Irish Album of the Year.”

“ARMS” is a melancholic, lovelorn yet optimistic response to a world in flux – the perfect antidote to Trump, Brexit and our struggle to understand our place in an increasingly digital and dislocated world. Most bands that get to this point in their catalogue have their best behind them and are treading water. This is not the case with this one from Bell X1, a credit to the band that they continue to care enough to craft this level of quality.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing on this project: “This has been the most difficult record we’ve made, in terms of feeling like it was good enough to share, to let it go and no longer be just ours. That we’d made something different to what’s come before” says Noonan. “I know we’ve been crazed with doubt, occasional bum steers and misguided conviction along the way and we say thank you to those who’ve calmed the waters…”

That self-doubt is not evident on “ARMS” which is a lovely, elegant and confident collection of songs that sees the band’s sonic prowess at its peak. The album is loaded with brilliantly crafted and intelligent tunes, bringing comforting familiarity with aplomb whilst also delivering new sounds and textures that continue to see growth and development in the band’s sound.

Bell X1 - ARMS - Album Art

‘Fail Again, Fail Better’ kicks off proceedings but there is no sniff of failure here as the band continue to carve a niche as top purveyors of a pop, rock, synth and sample cocktail. Album single ‘The Upswing’ is a gorgeous slice of soulful, poppy goodness – one of many album highlights. ‘Sons and Daughters’ is an apology to the future set to a rocking synth driven rhythm. In parts the album sounds like Vangelis has contributed some of the sound palette.

‘Fake Memory’ is another standout which slowly builds into an epic tune that will have you reaching for repeat. This is the sound of a band who know their game and are on top of it. On ‘The Upswing’ the band may claim ‘these are not the droids you’re looking for’ but I can assure you this IS the album you’re looking for.

The band will be supporting Tori Amos through the UK in September and will be essential viewing. For more detail, see:


Track Listing:

1. Fail Again, Fail Better
2. Bring Me a Fire King
3. The Upswing
4. I Go Where You Go
5. Take Your Sweet Time
6. Sons & Daughters
7. Out of Love
8. Fake Memory
9. The Coalface

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