Review: Bell X1 – Chop Chop
Published on July 2nd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Bell X1’s eighth album Chop Chop is one of those ‘stately yet fragile beauty interspersed with clattering broodiness’ affairs: think The National, Elbow, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, The Antlers, maybe even a little Arcade Fire.
Drums tumble and rumble, piano tinkles and cascades, a brass section makes triumphant interjections and Paul Noonan’s agreeably understated vocal chips in with instantly gratifying lyrical hooks such as “They’d block out the sun / If there was one” (“Starlings Over Brighton Pier”) and the more meanderingly thoughtful likes of “Last time I looked we were dancing like dogs on fire / Now I’m laughing with your little girl / Laughing about my sunburn on that day”.
At times Chop Chop treads too fine a line between competence and genuine inspiration, but when it does feel like it’s settled too much into itself – the bucolic trot of “Motorcades”, for example, or the stumbling, echo-y “Careful What You Wish For” – there’s invariably a splendorous breakdown and/or gentle liftoff to save the day.
“A Thousand Little Downers” throws in a sudden impact of crashing distortion to achieve its own particular liftoff, then casts those wings off for something altogether ‘floatier’, while the slow-burning intensity of “Diorama” is rousing in its peaceful way.
You won’t hear much that’s new on Chop Chop but you could enjoy a cozy Sunday afternoon with it, and there ain’t too much wrong with that.
Chop Chop will be released on July 1st by Belly Songs.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!