Revisiting my CD collection: The Coral, The Coral



Friends of mine will be familiar with this chat, but I still believe The Coral were one of the most misunderstood bands of their time.  They’ve been unfairly thrown in with the post-Oasis indie hopefuls, and it’s easy to see why.  Northern lads, 60s guitar influences, produced by Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds, copious drug use.  Those glowing endorsements by Noel Gallagher and Alex Turner probably didn’t help, either.

Their self-titled debut album, released when the oldest member of the band was 22, probably remains my favourite, because it puts these accusations down more energetically than the other records would.  The Coral sound fuck-all like Oasis or the Arctic Monkeys.  Skeleton Key is the obvious example, a deliberately screeching cacophony that’s the definite highlight of the album.  It proved The Coral were never interested in anything remotely relevant to life, they were just obsessed with absorbing as many bizarre influences as they could before cramming them into these lively little pop songs.



They were phenomenally talented and creative, knew their musical history better than most and were just the right amount of crazy, but I find it difficult to defend them too strongly.  People just don’t relate to The Coral very well, and I think I can see why now: they don’t really give you any reason to.  Intimacy, honesty, vulnerability, The Coral never utilised these.  They were too taken with their powers of invention.  I think that might be why they appealed to me, because I was far more interested in invention than expression.  Even I didn’t have a personal reason to like The Coral – I only got into them when my friend Stuart burned me a CD because he liked the bass line in Dreaming of You, and I knew a girl I liked thought they were cool.  That was literally all the encouragement I needed to make them required listening.

A review of their fourth album, The Invisible Invasion, said James Skelly was never really a lead vocalist, just a guy who sang.  I thought that was pretty harsh, but I see what they meant now.  He never brought anything to the songs, he just sang them with appropriate vigour.

The Coral is a brilliant album, and if there’s any justice, somebody will discover it in about a decade and they’ll remember The Coral as forgotten heroes of British music.  But it was never going to be anyone’s favourite album.

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