I’ve always felt that maybe The Coral were a little too prolific. Since their eponymous self titled debut of 2002, five albums arrived in the following seven years. After sophomore album Magic and Medicine, I can’t help but feel if the release rate had been slowed and consolidated, The Coral would be sitting on a much more impressive back catalogue.
Certainly, the long hiatus after 2010’s Butterfly House hasn’t done them any harm. Giving individual members space to pursue personal passions, a host of solo projects appeared while front man James Skelley founded Skeleton Key Records. Signing and producing some of the UK’s most promising talent in the process. 2014 release The Curse of Love was a knock up of sessions recorded between 2005 and 2007, their first new material appearing on 2016’s Distance Inbetween. A well received, focused return to the fray, The Coral initially headed into the studio to record an album in the same vein. Skelley realized they were playing safe and instead decided to go back to the basics of crafting melodies.
The latest offering is inspired by the playlist at Wirral fair that captured classic tunes from Del Shannon and Phil Spector’s 1970s albums with Dion and the Ramones. The result is a great album that nods to the early pop influences of Skelley and shows his versatility as both a songwriter and a producer. Eyes Like Pearls, Reaching Out for a Friend and Love or Solution are classic organ infused Mersey Pop. The stilted digital sound of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures infuses Sweet Release and Undercover of the Night. Amongst the 4/4 soul beats and swirling Gretch tones, the presence of fellow Scouse Luminaries Echo and The Bunnymen is felt on the tension of Outside My Window. While Strangers in the Hollow drifts into Jeff Lynne, ELO prog territory.
This album is still drenched in the swirling Psychedelia and whimsical folk that has become The Coral’s trademark. While there is nothing that’s groundbreaking on this record, it’s a solid album by one of the UK’s most enduring bands. Possibly one of their strongest albums to date. Still only in their 30’s, it looks like there’s plenty more on the horizon for the Wirral outfit.
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