ARTICLE BY JOSH LATHAM
You’d be forgiven for thinking that The Coral had dropped off the map. They were undoubtedly one of the highlights of the early 2000s indie boom, at once a champion and an outlier of the movement. They presented a cinematic and 60s influenced approach to vocal harmonies and arrangement that truly set them apart from the Libertines wanna-bees, with their skinny-jeaned heroin chic and calculated regional affectations. But as all things must die, so did Indie, and like the sinking ship of Camden Lock, The Coral retreated into the background.
A string of poorly received and altogether average albums later, followed by the loss of guitarist and songwriter Bill Ryder-Jones to his eponymous solo project and an unspecified “hiatus” in 2012, even the faithful were questioning if the Wirral boys would be back.
But luckily for us they are back. And what a glorious, well-timed return it is.
The 5-year hiatus has clearly done the band wonders. The reverential 60s vibe present on their earlier material has now come full circle. Opener “The Connector” sets the tone in the first 30 seconds, with a more-than-a-little krautrock bass and drum groove and guitars fuzzier than Frank Zappa’s upper lip. Sepia-toned psychedelia bleeds across “Chasing the Tail of a Dream” in the form of organ stabs and doom-laden guitar and bass progressions, while “Fear Machine” breaks down into a Doors-y freak out, replete with washy layers of feedback that draw the air from a room like hazy stoners, armed with incense sticks and an endless supply of high grade. The altogether darker mood that commands proceedings has seeped sinisterly into the bands characteristic vocal harmonies, lending an eerie sense of unease throughout.
Singles “Miss Fortune” and “Holy Revelation” prove to be the epitome of this formula, blasting out satisfying doses of trippy reverse guitar and honed lyricism in under 4 minutes – no easy feat but one that is executed effortlessly. Perhaps this is the legacy of the album. A certain maturity shines through in the song writing that speaks volumes of their 14 year career. While they’ve retained many of the elements they are rightfully lauded for, there is a new edge that suggests a band comfortable with who they are and where they want to be. Listening to this album it’s hard to imagine them playing their indie disco favorites back catalogue without a hint of resentment for their chart-courting past. Indeed, for anyone expecting another “In The Morning” this will be a huge disappointment. For those with a more open mind, it is a wonder.