BellX1, Flock

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Irish combo offer a rush of love to the head

"I could've got a job," sings Paul Noonan in "Bad Skin Day," "I could've been a contender." It's that sense of longing and squandered dreams that powers Flock, the remarkable third record from Irish group BellX1. Combining the shameless grandiosity of Coldplay with the raw-nerve yearning of James, BellX1 have crafted a record that tugs at the heartstrings while soaring choruses raise the goosflesh. Chalk most of that up to Noonan's quavering voice. It slides perfectly in the sluices created by those glistening guitars, and even on darker numbers like "He Said, She Said," when he's hollering "YES I covet my neighbor's wife and/ YES I covet my neighbors goods," it's hard not to sympathize with him. In any other universe, BellX1 would be major label superstars (they were, in fact, on Universal for a split second, but the suits apparently couldn't figure out how to transform their anthems into radio spins). Which is ridiculous, because Flock is full of the kind of wonder and stadium-size yearning that ought to resonate on a grand scale. To wit: "Bad Skin Day," the song that opens with Noonan bemoaning his status as non-contender, ends with him singing "Someday we'll all grow wings." It's that optimism, that belief in the best despite the appearance of the worst, that makes Flock so stirring and so singularly affecting.