On her third album, the former Nickelodeon star sheds the cute popstar image, adopting a message of empowerment that rings true
The Coral: The Coral
The funniest, most refreshing British debut in years
In The Coral's company, the usual critical shorthand isn't so much made redundant as turned into hieroglyphics. Take 'Goodbye'. Stomping rhythm 'n' blues for two minutes, then suddenly the guitars flip into gonzo-punk overload and then whoooosh, it's turned into that dream sequence bit in 'Wayne's World 2' where Wayne meets Jim Morrison in the desert, before wriggling to a triumphant conclusion in four minutes flat.
Tunes so joyous you thought they only existed on dusty 45s in ancient pub jukeboxes appear regularly through the mist. 'Dreaming Of You' is two minutes and 19 seconds of yearning pop confusion ('I still need you but/I don't want you') to rival both Madness' 'When I Dream' and Frank Zappa' 'My Girl' (told you it was weird); 'Skeleton Key' is a deranged Coral tribute that morphs into a gothic mariachi shuffle and finally, sublime, slippery Grace Jones disco and 'Shadows Fall', as you know, features the first ever marriage of ragtime, Egyptian reggae and barbershop on record. All orchestrated by Joe Meek (sombrero's off, incidentally, to Ian Broudie for an impeccable production).
But The Coral display not the slightest trace of Gomez-ian worthiness, just an insane joy at being able to make an album that, as James has gone on record as saying, sounds 'timeless'. Only the Super Furriesand [/a] would dare show such disrespect for the rulebook, but even they, you suspect, would draw the line at skiffle-driven Gregorian sea shanties.
As a final 'Calendars & Clocks' suggests ('Descendants of joy/ return the father to the boy'), [a]The Coral have ventured into rock's pre-history in their quest for fresh musical plunder and the outcome is the funniest, most
refreshing British debut in years.
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