The Coral ‘Butterfly House’ – Review

20 Jul

It’s easy to forget that once upon a time The Coral were the coolest band in Britain. Their sound was quite psychedelic and retro but it wasn’t too far a leap from Britpop and they weren’t as threatening as The Libertines or as mainstream as The Thrills. It meant that in many people’s eyes they were ‘it’. In 2003 they were not only the coolest band in the country, but arguably the best as well – and the most popular, as they released a number one album and three top ten singles.

In 2010 though they are only really remembered for one classic song (‘Dreaming of You’) although if you played a number of their singles most people’s reaction would probably be ‘Oh yeah, I remember that’. They are undoubtedly a cult band though, and still a very highly regarded one. Noel Gallagher, Alex Turner and Mani all regularly cite them as one of the best bands around but their new album has gone slightly under the radar as far as the wider public is concerned. It’s a shame because this is easily their best work in a long time.

The Coral have always had three settings: Their first one is dark psychedelia, their second is upbeat pop and their third is sweet and mellow folk. We get all three here, but very little that is either challenging or new. ‘Walking in the Winter’ is absolutely classic Coral in the folk setting, in a just world it would be all over the radio this summer (despite its title) but I doubt it will even get released on its own. If you liked ‘Jaqueline’ or ‘Being Somebody else’ then you will love this song. ‘Falling All Around You’ is another song in this style that really stands out, whilst ‘Two Faces’ demonstrates the upbeat pop style I was talking about.

It’s hard to remember exactly what The Coral’s last two albums were like as I probably only heard them once, (and I certainly haven’t listened them in a long time) but I remember them being a bit more glum and experimental than ‘Butterfly House’. This isn’t as strange or as boundary pushing as those albums but it’s definitely a lot more consistent and enjoyable. There may not be a stand-out single here but the album as a whole shines because of that. The harmonies are some of the best you will have heard in years and these melodies will swim in your head for days. It’s gold old-fashioned talent and craftmanship that totally wins out here, and ‘butterfly House’ is a traditional album by a prolific and traditional band – in the best sense of the word. If you haven’t brought a Coral record in a while now might be the time to do so.

7.5/10

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