Thirteen years ago, after the release of their self-titled debut and its swift follow-up ‘Magic And Medicine’, The Coral really meant something. The Wirral scallies stood out with their technical brilliance, unique take on the psychedelia sound and their ability to write an absolute banger – in ‘Dreaming Of You’ they had one of the most effortlessly brilliant pop songs of the early ’00s. They and The Libertines were the faces of the British indie boom that followed The Strokes and The White Stripes.
By 2004 their magic had begun to fade and there was nothing especially mind-mangling about the four albums they released in the next six years – ‘Nightfreak And The Sons of Becker’, ‘The Invisible Invasion’, ‘Roots & Echoes’ and ‘Butterfly House’.
In the middle of all this, a chief architect of their sound, Bill Ryder-Jones, left the band and it seemed reasonable to start worrying about their future.When an “indefinite hiatus” was announced in 2012, and an album of lost songs (‘The Curse Of Love’) came two years later, the end seemed nigh. Not so! The Coral are back, and the big question everyone’s asking is: can they reclaim their kaleidoscopic crowns?
In their favour is a moodier and more rhythmic approach, with all the hooks that once made them great. There are highlights galore. Now in his mid-30s, frontman James Skelly is still growling out lines such as “Ooh she’s a mover/ as she moves in and out of time” on the brilliant ‘Miss Fortune’. First single ‘Chasing The Tail of a Dream’ is a psych-rock belter with a banging beat courtesy of James’s brother Ian. There’s a Paul Molloy guitar solo in ‘Million Eyes’ that sounds like early Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.
Other standouts include ‘Holy Revelation’ and ‘Fear Machine’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to HBO’s new homage to ’70s rock, Vinyl. Closing track ‘End Credits’ is a ghostly sea shanty that recalls their early weirdness.
‘Distance Inbetween’ is a cohesive, imaginative psych-rock record that grows with every listen. Welcome back, boys.
- Record label: Ignition Records
- Release date: 04 Mar, 2016