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Bell X1, ‘Flock’ (Yep Roc)

The U.S. debut of Damien Rice’s former band turns sentimental mush into something surprisingly palatable. Paul Noonan has a sweetly apologetic voice that matches the songs’ creamy melodies, but he tweaks the formula subtly. “When your hand brushed against mine, I thought I’d collapse,” he sighs on “Flame,” then slips into a jaunty clap-along about toasting marshmallows. Elsewhere, he punctuates the mopey “Bad Skin Day” by muttering, “Christ, I’m such a drama queen,” cleverly mocking romantic clichés and drawing on their emotional power at the same time. Now Hear This: Flock streaming player

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Tags: Albums