Beloved Irish band Bell X1 is releasing their seventh studio album, Arms, on October 14th. The Irish Times is currently streaming the entire album and you can listen here.
In the sparse nine tracks on the record, the band lays out a melancholic yet somehow hopeful map of heartache and recovery. Paul Noonan's gentle, soulful vocals croon poetic lyrics like "A glint in the sand, it's fool's gold" ("I'll Go Where You Go") while bassist Dominic Phillips provides soft backing grooves it all hangs on and guitarist David Geraghty adds catchy melodic hooks (though it seems odd to have nuggets like "fail again, fail better" stuck in your head). The general malaise of the songs, constant electronic beats and synthesizer, and repetitive anthemic phrasing recalls Radiohead at times, though Bell X1's lyrics are much less abstract and more accessible, expressing sentiments about being on an upswing after a push in the right direction and to "take your sweet time" recovering. In fact, the band's heart on its sleeve approach to the material is probably closer to The National if they were more upbeat and dance-able, and Glenn Keating who had recorded Jonsi and The National was involved in the recording.
Overall, Arms is a record that pleases with both its rhythmic beats and its sensitive, soul-searching melodies and lyrics. "The title Arms is about the idea that, as the world feels like it's becoming a harsher place (maybe there's just more damn noise?) we seek out the comfort of the familiar and the familial....arms," says singer Paul Noonan. This seems like a perfect summary of the record, which seems to gently offer comfort to the afflicted. The band has released videos for standout tracks "The Upswing," a meditation on slowly climbing up out of a rut due to the influence of someone, and "Out Of Love," about losing the thrill of a relationship. You can watch them here and here.