Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It would be smart if we looked to our elders for those words of wisdom that don't come of age or reveal themselves prior to the first wrinkle or a divorce, whichever comes first. It would be smart, but common sense and our educational system just aren't what they used to be. Hell, our elders aren't what they used to be. These words that we need, they just don't usually appear until they're too late, until their lessons can really sink in as bits to take to heart and not just the hypotheticals that get shooed off like a nosy fly, when the time's just too young. It could be that some of our elders never learn these lessons either - don't know these words of wisdom. The lights go on at the start of the show and they go off when the blood goes cold and there's no growth or illumination anywhere there in the middle parts of the story, where as legend has it, the plot should thicken. They expire having never been seduced or been pinned upside down in the wreckage of a seduction. They've not lived long enough or lively enough to have earned any danger or anything that could turn the high alert sensors on and bring out the icy shivers. Irish band Bell X1 have listened to these elders - the ones who have nothing to say and the ones who have everything to say - and its made the best out of that high-wire act of balancing misinformation and silence when it comes to learning how to proceed with any kind of proficiency over the obstacle course of the day-to-day. Paul Noonan and David Geraghty, the two members of the group who flew here to Rock Island the day after recording with Steve Lilywhite in New York City, have taken the words of the rosy-cheeked drunkards about broads and birds and tried to figure them out. They've taken the words of the hunch-backed old widowers who still lovingly wear the wedding ring of their wives of decades on their pruning, bony and liver-spotted hand and believed them. They believe all the words - from the broken-hearted romantics to the disgruntled madmen who've known no more than a few days straight of good luck - and when they curl them up with their own sentiments of lush imagery and imperfect beauty, they make some very light and affecting cocktails. When Noonan sings about not really knowing how "your" heart is wired and suggests that he's either cutting the red one or the blue one, it's a statement about these sorts of things being dangerous and needing some urgent attention. Though there's nothing all that urgent about the music of Bell X1, just a graceful ride into the kind of place for those who get into the premise of Valentine's Day and cupid's weapon and still get scared of what the aftermath of all of it could be. The people being depicted in the songs on the band's latest, Blue Lights on the Runway, are those who've seen the crashes and the bottoms fall completely out of a relationship and there's a sheepish wonderment about how the next one could go. Still, there's no helping the allure of another one. They buy into the intoxicating flash of the eyes and the coy whispers that may actually be unspoken pheromones. It's just another trap door that they build into their floor and those blue lights that they put into their album title are meant to be guideposts - you let your wheels touch down right in the center of them and then you lay on the breaks. They are the parameters of a safe landing and yet, prior to touching down and coming to a full rest, those blue lights can't actually assist the safety of anything. Everything's left up to human error - disaster and the opposite. Bell X1 don't try to redefine the postulate, they just cake it in more observances that they'll pass along as the elders. And still, the words of wisdom will have less than a 50-percent effective rate. Those elders.
Bell X1 Official Site