“If there was a God, then why is my arse
The perfect height for kicking?”(Rocky Took a Lover).
The beauty of Flock, BellX1’s third album, is that in among a record that strands a diverse spectrum of frustration, anger, longing and romance, out comes a line of razor sharp wit.
It’s a throwback to their previous album, Music in Mouth;
“I’m a little all over the shop
Like those souvenirs from Knock
that come all the way from China.”
Paul Noonan’s penchant for humour in his song writing is an Irish trait. It is borne out of some absurdity in the Irish psyche that compels us to continually seek the humour in everything. Maybe it’s why we always ask what the craic is.
The craic on this album is very good. On Flock, BellX1 have created a record that compels you to listen and invites you to discover.
The opening track Reacharound is emphatic; there’s no bullshit because that’s what the song is railing against, “cute hoors” and “envelopes so brown”. Backboned by a whining guitar riff and a pounding drum beat it is direct, obvious, and fuel for a fire that burns on He Said, She Said also. (A tirade against “Heat magazine and all that it stands for”, according to Paul.)
Rocky Took a Lover is about a homeless guy who used to sleep across from where Paul lived in Smithfield in Dublin. Rocky picked up a woman one night and the song dreams up the subsequent conversation. The result is a humorous ballad of cynicism and drunken notions ofromance-it could as easily be Temple Bar as Tralee.
He Said, She Said is reminiscent of Radiohead’s last album, only the restrictors which marred some of the songs on Hail to the Thief have been cast aside by Bell X1. The song takes off and excites as it explodes into a frenzy of emotional discord.
Bad Skin Day suffers from the Radiohead factor though; it’s almost a breach of copyright, suffocated by the sins of similarity.
Flock gets into full stride with Natalie and Bigger Than Me, enticing more determined foot tapping and even if Just Like Mr. Benn is out of place and slightly irritating, My First Born for a Song is wonderfully delirious.
Trampoline gently tugs at the heartstrings but Lamposts is the defining track of this record. Full of longing and insecurity yet there is no escaping the humour; how a new couple negotiate lampposts when they start to hold hands for the first time.
“I’ve been walking you
Into those lamposts again
I’d rather do that than
Let you of your hand”.
An album that opens in cynical fashion and closes to the tune of an enduring romantic, Flock is both intriguing and endearing.