The Coral

The Coral

The Coral



That’s the feeling I get from this record, and it’s not just because the lyrics of the first song consist of, “We’ll set sail again! We’re heading for the Spanish Main!,” and that’s it, just that, chanted insanely over and over while crazy guitars and martial drums and echoes go flailing all about, just the same way they would in a real pirate attack! Or “Skeleton Key,” where these mentalists talk about, “Brother, roll another for me / I am shipwrecked on the rocks,” just like they would if they were really pirates!

No, it’s also the way they boldly steal melodies and harmonies and textures from British Invasion groups (most notably the Animals and the Zombies, really going from A to Z there har har) and their attitudes and guitar sounds from American garage-rock bands (Nuggets box set, your ears if you had them would be burning). That’s piracy, y’all, and I love it.

Y’see, these super-young, super-cool Liverpudlians really just don’t give a flying barnacle which genres they plunder on their quest to make music sound fun again. “Shadows Fall” is spaghetti-reggae with ping-ponging voice work by the whole band, and it’s followed by “Dreaming of You,” which is what the Kinks would have sounded like if they had been locked in the same transporter as the Specials and Sam and Dave. And the Coral sees no contradiction there. So neither do I.

Scary that I can cite influences from Chuck Berry to Gomez in their style — scarier still that songs like “Bad Man” are completely uncharacterizable at all, sounding something like a Stray Cats/Standells/Rolling Stones/King Crimson/Adam and the Ants mashup with absolutely souled-out vocals from James Skelley — who was only 21 when this was recorded, making him the oldest dude in the band — complete with old preacher sermonizing in the break.

“Shadows Fall” was a hit on the UK charts, where they still listen to more than two kinds of music — they hit the whole Jamaican vocal group thing, the mournful two-tone ska thing, the Pixies- and Calexico-derived cactus vibe thing, the weird swing break thing, and it all somehow doesn’t sound too overstuffed at 3:25.

So when they pull out the psychedelic pop jammy on “Calendars and Clocks,” or when they find the groove in the nonexistent-spy-movie-soundtrack Yardbirds-ripoff tune “Waiting for the Heartaches,” you will love these six insane bastards. So hurry up and love them; their second album’s just coming out now, and I hear it’s soft and folky and doesn’t have so many harmonies on it. But this one is full of harmonies and funny shit and Skelley’s tortured blues voice and Nick Power’s sharp-ass organ work and Lee Southall’s creepy guitar solos and a great hidden tracks and lots of weird young fun from England. Dig it now, baby, or ye’ll end up in Davy Jones’ Locker with the rest of ’em!

The Coral:

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