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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Invasion more British than Invisible..., 3 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Love Undercover (Audio CD)
These days members of the Coral seem to be doing lots of work on side projects, perhaps using solo albums as a chance to bring in interesting collaborators and air material that might be at odds with their core sound. Not that that was particularly restrictive to begin with, they have always offered intriguing spin offs like the punky EP Nightfreak & The Sons Of Becker and the Butterfly House (Acoustic Version). But perhaps it's a sign of the group's creativity that there are too many ideas floating around for one band to adequately explore. Their former guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones has moved from soundtrack work to releasing regular albums, like If and A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, while drummer Ian Skelly recently gave us the psychedelic rock album Cut From A Star. Now we find Coral frontman James Skelly teaming with his brother Ian, as well as various members of the Sundowners and Tramp Attack for this collection of retro pop songs.

The vivd red cover depicts the man himself, playing his Rickenbacker 360, a guitar closely associated with the British invasion sound of the 60s. This gives a pretty good indication of what to expect. The tracks on this record feature snappy slapback echo vocals, a raw drum sound and production so stripped back it almost isn't there at all. At first listen it seems like this could a demo tape or a live recording (except that the Coral are every bit as rich sounding on stage as they are in the studio). It's only on the last track, Darkest Days, that the fingerpicked acoustic, percussion and throaty slide guitar begins to sound modern again. In short it's a world away from the reverb drenched Roots and Echoes, although the songs themselves have an affinity with that material, or from the multi-layered arrangements of The Butterfly House.

James Skelly always could write a good hook and already after the first few listens, I find myself wanting to sing along with the album. Each of these songs is a little story, usually focusing on the theme of love, either lost, gained, desired, or returned. Whether it's You and I, which celebrates togetherness and pledges love eternal or Turn Away in which all the good intentions come to nothing but heartbreak, love is explored in all it's many splendored glory. Do It Again questions why a supposedly dissatisfied lover keeps coming back for more, and Set You Free encourages a loved one to break out and make the life they deserve.

The emphasis may be on the vocals but the band is on good form, sounding like a touring outfit and not just a studio project. The album opener You've Got It All, co-written with Paul Weller, brings out a mod beat for a declaration of love, while I'm A Man strikes a defiant tone with mariachi trumpet and country influenced bassline to say, "You can work me to the bone, try to turn my heart to stone, but I'm a man and you'll never take my soul." Little details like the soaring sixties-style backing harmonies from Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly and a few strategic saxophones parts rounding out the arrangements complete a satisfying musical experience.

I ordered the CD digi-pack version directly from the band's website, not only getting it just ahead of the release date but also getting a signed poster. (Thanks guys!)

So another worthy addition to the back catalog and more members added to the extended Coral family. Let's hope this means that there will be many more creative collaborations and experiments, and that the next Coral album be all the richer for it, whenever that turns up.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jun 2013 18:40:06 BDT
Sadly the next Coral album may be some years off.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jun 2013 18:47:49 BDT
Oh well, I'm prepared to wait ;-)
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