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Bell X1: Rock Dressed In Electro Beats

It's easy to compare Bell X1's artfully constructed songs and offbeat lyrics to those of Talking Heads, but don't tell that to Paul Noonan. He's heard it, and he's sick of the comparison.

Noonan, the band's principal singer/songwriter, contends, however, "They're good footsteps to follow if that's what we're doing."

Bell X1 hails from Ireland, where they've maintained a steadfast following before bringing their music overseas. Their well-received 2005 album Flock earned them widespread attention and songs featured on the TV shows The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. The group's fourth studio release, Blue Lights on the Runway, is out now.

Eye Of Newt, Toe Of Frog

Noonan and guitarist Dave Geraghty have an organic approach to starting a new record. The two work off each other's ideas, both in music and in life. They're constantly finishing each other's sentences. Noonan explains that with each record, they try to take the image they've created for themselves and challenge it. With their latest, Bell X1 explores the electronic side of their music, departing from the more radio-friendly pop songs of Flock.

"The magic of it is there is no formula," Noonan says.

Literary allusions drive their work, and the recording of Blue Lights took place in a house reminiscent of a scene from Shakespeare or Edgar Allan Poe.

"We took a house," Geraghty says, "a big, old, drafty, spooky house that was a castle once upon a time. That was a lot of fun because there we discovered how to dress the songs and put on finishing touches."

So how do they work out a song?

"Eye of newt," says Noonan, and Geraghty continues, "toe of frog."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.