With 2005s Flock, Bell X1 broke the mainstream market by delving into the realms of up-tempo synth pop. With Blue Lights on The Runway they've gone further down that road, and, at the risk of sounding like an anti-commercial music snob, not to their advantage. It's not the style that lets them down, per se, but the overly ambitious running times of the tracks here, with most running five, six minutes and above. Lacking the presence or the variation to fill the duration, instead they become repetitive and drag. Single The Great Defector is by far the most appealing of the up-tempo numbers on offer, with its Talking Heads style chorus line and funky guitar, yet even it begins to outstay its welcome towards the end.

Where once biblical, proverbial and pop culture references might have seemed clever, now with constant mention of "Dear Liza", "Tuesday's Child", "Bambi On Ice", "Mr. Wolf", "Guns to Stick to," etc, etc, etc... you wonder if Bell X1 have any original ideas left in them, or indeed, if they ever had. Still, there are some endearing and amusing Irishisms in the wonderful pronunciation of the word "arse" and the grammatically incorrect yet so often used phrase "that'll learn me."

It seems a shame to say Bell X1 should stick to what they're good at, that being heartfelt piano led ballads, but Blow Ins is head and shoulders above the other nine tracks here, with its elegantly layered backing vocals and slide guitar harking back to their still magnificent debut Neither Am I. The jazz influenced brass section of closer The Curtains Are Twitching is too little to late, while the distorted guitars of Breastfed serve to remind that Paul Noonan and co. do have a tormented rock edge, albeit shamefully under-demonstrated here. Disappointingly un-engaging.