Bell X1

Irish band Bell X1 looks back in new album


Bell X1

Bell X1’s new album might be called "Blue Lights on the Runway" but it should probably have been named "Pretty in Pink" if it were true to its color.

Their latest album finds Damien Rice’s old band mining the 80s for inspiration. The single on the album is “The Great Defector,” which seems to be on permanent and constant rotation on satellite radio.

The song’s foundation is a tinny synthesizer riff garnished with a crosswind of ska and African percussion elements that calls to mind early Talking Heads music. 

It is rapidly becoming a hot single for the sizzling summer months, and while I find it hard to muster enthusiasm for the song after seeing the real David Byrne play music like this a few months ago, I suppose there are worse things you can listen to it on the radio nowadays.

“I am the defector/and you’re the farmer’s daughter/you been teasing us farm boys/till we start talkin’ about those rabbits, George/Oh won’t you tell us ‘bout those rabbits, George,” sings Paul Noonan on the song.

Not sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s witty if you are “in” on the inside joke. Are you?

“The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella” has the cheery electronic musical bed and deadpan vocals of any number of New Order songs. “A Better Band” takes you back to the Talking Heads, a better band by any stretch of the imagination.

Songs like “Light Catches your Face” and “Blow-ins” mix it up a little -- here they sound like Snow Patrol, a band that came to light this decade!

Blue Lights on the Runway will make you yearn for a time gone by, like that time a couple of years ago, when Bell X1 released an album called Flock and had an original voice.

Only on tracks like the catchy “Breastfed” and the gorgeous ballad “Amelia” does the band show that lost promise. This new persona is a lot like the 80s candy Pop Rocks; the sizzle wears off very quickly, leaving a sticky mess in its wake.


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