The Coral – Coral Island
Coral Island was initially conceived as a prospective base from which the five members of The Coral would assimilate their creative ideas. Fortunately for its listeners, the ambitious venture to create their own version of The Beatles’ double disc The White Album has resulted in a 24-track creation that is close to brilliance.
Running through the album is a theme of a once-bustling fairground called Coral Island’ Indeed, the theme is visually realised through the accompanying book created by keyboardist Nick Power. It is never fully conceptualised, but, broadly speaking, the first side of material represents the joy of the open fairground in summer, and the second evokes its dispiriting decline in winter.
This motif is most apparent through the spoken-word interludes provided by James and Ian Skelly’s grandfather, who gives Power’s lyrics a Burtonesque nostalgic grandeur. Sometimes, however, these verbal interludes cause an unnecessary hiatus in the progression of the album, rather than providing a pleasant intermission.
Otherwise, the concept of the traditional British fairground stimulates the lyrical and musical ideas of the band, without directly addressing the thematic narrative provided in the oral intermissions.
The tracks most obviously influenced by this theme provide the greatest highlights on a record that is full of gems. The wonderfully upbeat Summertime is energised with a pulsating fairground-like organ, and soulful closer The Calico Girl evokes the faded showbiz-style glamour of end-of-the-pier crooners to poignant effect.
Elsewhere, the album is packed full of staple trademarks of the band, be it psychedelic undercurrents of Lover Undiscovered, haunting takes on vintage rock’n’roll (as apparent on the eerie Faceless Angel), the melodic breeziness of My Best Friend or the acoustic folk balladry of Old Photographs.
The only missing feature, on an otherwise great offering, is the frequency of exciting guitar solos from Paul Molloy, which only echo with delight on the dub-influenced Land of the Lost.
Apart from that, the band’s tenth album is a brave, welcome return, which will be hailed by some as their magnum opus.
Coral Island is released on 30th April 2021. For further information or to order the album visit The Coral’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Lover Undiscovered here: