Blue Lights on the Runway
Now then, if there was ever a press release that hyped up a band, this would be it.
I’m told, before even listening to the album, that ‘Blue Lights On The Runway’ is a “timely release, that like The Flaming Lips’ ‘Soft Bulletin’ or Elbow’s ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ should finally cross Bell X1 over to a mainstream UK audience”. Now that’s quite a statement to make. Those two albums are arguably amongst the best records of the last 20 years or so, and the Soft Bulletin is easily one of my absolute favourite albums, and so I really was expecting great things from Bell X1; and oh how utterly disappointed I am. The Flaming Lips and Elbow created phenomenal albums, and in comparison, ‘Blue Lights on the Runway’ is little more than a 4 track demo created in a garage somewhere. It’s bland, terrifyingly predictable and for the most part, bloody boring.
There are moments of greatness, but they are so few and far between that they’re very soon forgotten. “The Great Defector” is not a bad track, with an irritatingly catchy sing-along chorus, but given my very high expectations, it comes over little more than mediocre.
Album closer “The Curtains Are Twitching” is by far the high-point of the album. It’s tender and sincere without being patronising, and the very raw sound of the deep-south American brass instruments in the background really add to the track ten-fold, providing a fantastic taste of what this band could be. Had they managed to convey this sound for a whole 10 tracks, maybe ‘Blue Lights On The Runway’ could have really crossed the band over to a mainstream audience, but unfortunately they’ve failed to do so on this occasion.