Bell X1 // ‘Hey Anna Lena’
Bell X1 have long been a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Guilty, not because I’m actually ashamed of any of the music, but guilty because there are tonnes of identical artists out there that I’d never give the time of day, yet I always seem to make time for Damien Rice’s collective arch-nemesis.
The Bellies have been getting progressively more electronically-focused on recent albums. This worked to great effect on 2005’s Flock but, with a couple of notable exceptions, the same tendency made 2008’s Blue Lights on the Runway sound stiff and lifeless. ‘Hey Anna Lena,’ the lead single from the forthcoming album Bloodless Coup, expands the electronic influence further with glitchy percussion driving the song throughout.
The song’s gone down quite well so far, even with the band’s erstwhile detractors, but I’m still not convinced. The bleep-bloop sounds awfully contrived, and while there is definitely a hook in there, I think it’s stifled by the overbearing synth, guitar and string arrangement. It’s all just a little bit too much when the best songs on previous albums (particularly ‘Rocky Took a Lover’) were characterised by a sort of glib understatement.
Still, roll on April 1st and (hopefully) a solid return to form for the Celbridge band.