Bell X1 – Chop Chop
For their sixth album, Bell X1 shelve the Talking Heads-aping pop strut and glitchy electronics that flavoured predecessors Blue Lights on the Highway and Bloodless Coup, as part of a deliberate effort to strip their songwriting back to its simplest expression. It’s an understandable urge for the trio but a dangerous one, for Bell X1 aren’t a particularly dynamic troupe (on record at least), and removing layers only draws attention to the fact.
Nonetheless, Chop Chop achieves several moments of elegance, with warm horns elevating Diorama’s easy-listening melodies and The End Is Nigh ticking the ‘anthemic finale’ box ably. But even here Bell X1 betray a lack of distinct personality, with the latter’s strings-hoisted passions glancing where they should pierce, and a shimmering guitar line straight out of Where the Streets Have No Name suggesting they’re still keeping tabs on those other inhabitants of the ‘Dublin-born chart-toppers named after military aircraft’ wiki-stub. [Chris Buckle]