- 06 Jun 23
Vintage effort from Irish rock heroes
‘The Lobster’, just one of a clatter of magnificent tracks off Bell X1’s Merciful Hour, finds French über-existentialist Jean Paul Sartre suffering a psychotropic hangover, which involves being chased by a giant crustacean, all set to a delightful disco beat. Bookworms and boogie.
The good ship Bell X1 is in full sail again and all is well with the world. Lead single ‘Haint Blue’ was devoured by fans of the Bellies, rightfully ecstatic that finally they had received another classic tune, seven long years after the band’s last LP. There is nobody else like them, not on these shores, not on any shores.
They possess a sound that is as intrinsically Irish as – paradoxically – it is not. Take exhibit A, the folksy chant of ‘As The Demons Have Their Say’. It contains several Irish euphemisms, including “The glad eye” and “Soften your cough”. With just one syllable – the second part of “cigar” – it invokes the spirit of the legendary Whelans songwriter set from the early days of the century.
Yet such is the chemistry of this band, that exhibit B – the diptych of ‘Something Electric’ and ‘Spacewalk’ – is something else entirely. It’s as widescreen as Springsteen, as nuanced as The National. And then you have the frantic falsetto on ‘Whisper In The Night’ and the marvellously chaotic breakdown on ‘Light My Way’, which may be labelled exhibit X, as it is unlike even Bell X1. Man, it’s been so worth the wait.