Bell X1

Chop Chop

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AllMusic Review by

Irish ensemble Bell X1's sixth studio album, 2013's Chop Chop, is an atmospheric, languid, and deeply ruminative album. Once again centered around lead singer Paul Noonan, Chop Chop is a quieter affair than 2011's Bloodless Coup, which mixed electronic sounds with the band's anthemic guitar rock. Whereas that album brought to mind the more exuberant rock of fellow Irish band U2, Chop Chop has more in common with the intimate folk-rock of the band's onetime member Damien Rice. Recorded at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut with producers Peter Katis and Thomas Bartlett, Chop Chop features layered yet stripped-down recordings that make the most of Noonan's literate, evocative lyrics. Tracks like "Starlings Over Brighton Pier," "Careful What You Wish For," and "Drive by Summer" build slowly with beautifully rendered piano lines, organic percussion bits, and a mix of electric and acoustic guitars. This means the album comes off less like the work of an indie rock band and more like a baroque chamber ensemble reinterpreting songs outside of its classical genre. Chop Chop also brings to mind the similarly inclined work of Chicago's Andrew Bird. While these certainly aren't pop songs designed to grab you in the immediate sense, they are gorgeous and poetic recordings that stick with you long after the songs have ended.

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