I am a Scouser who dislikes The Beatles. It is drilled into you that you must love them being from Liverpool so I rebelled and said I didn’t. My Dad then introduced me to the sea-shanty sounds of The Coral when I was 15 and I fell head over heels in love with the beauty that was their debut album The Coral. I subsequently saw them perform 8 times over a period of 2 years and followed their music religiously, along with all my scouse friends, through Magic & Medicine, Nightfreaks and the Sons of Becker and The Invisible Invasion. We loved every guitar solo, each bass sound that made you bend slightly at the knees and every drawling scouse moment.
Then they released Roots and Echoes; this album falls somewhat short of the expectations I once held for all of The Coral’s music and since then I have been put off – other than the occasional slip of the ipod shuffle which brings up a classic tune.
So when the news broke in early 2008 that Bill Ryder Jones, the guitar wielding genius that he was, had left the band – I was very nervous about their future. It has taken the boys 2 years to get back on track and into the studio in order to release latest album Butterfly House, and from the offset you do wonder what they have been doing with their time. Obviously, it is always hard for a band to carry on after losing such a pivotal member, and yes, they do seem to have replaced the guitar well with Lee Southall and James Skelly sharing the duties between them but I fail to see this album taking them any further than they have already gone.
It is very reminiscent of the west coast American 60’s sound, which they once only used just for inspiration, but now they embrace it wholeheartedly. In the opening track entitled More Than a Lover we are treated to some big bass drum sounds, as singer, James Skelly announces its all ‘too much to carry on’, a nostalgic look at the past that starts the album in a negative fashion.
The title track Butterfly House enhances this negative vibe with its pessimistic tone, yet the song is somewhat rescued with the guitar solo towards the end, which one can only imagine, will work well when played live after its sombre beginning.
The first single from the album 1000 Years does feature the harmonies that The Coral have always excelled in, but other than that it doesn’t really offer much. Sure it’s catchy, but only in that it simply repeats the chorus over and over again.
Enough of the negativity though, there are two tracks on the album that are very good indeed. Walking in the Winter sees the band reach into a simplistic mellow vibe which aids the album greatly by achieving some much needed optimism, and the lyrics are simply beautiful. It will be a great track when winter really does come around and you can wrap up with a scarf and walk through a forest with your headphones on and feel the ice on your cheeks, the only problem: its summer now!
The second track that deserves a positive mention is She’s Comin’ Around, the guitar intro really does sound like its been lifted from The Beatles but as the song progresses the band stamp their mark on the track and this I feel is the much needed Dreaming of You on the album; upbeat, danceable and fun.
It does sound like the band is back on good form and are gelling well together despite the loss of Bill Ryder, and that is a very good thing. Despite my negative reaction to this album I really am looking forward to the future as I feel they still have something more to give but they just haven’t figured out what that is yet. They need to focus a little more on making some fun songs that we can all relate to and not get caught up in nostalgia.
Plus stop ripping off The Beatles.
Words: Rivca Burns
Listen: THE CORAL – Butterfly House