The Coral - The Coral

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2002-07-29

While the fiery rock & roll spirit of The La's Lee Mavers courses through their veins, the debut album by youthful Liverpudlian mystics the Coral proves they are far more than Merseybeat chancers. The opening "Spanish Main"--"We've set sail again! / We're heading for the Spanish Main!"--casts the sextet as marauding scally pirates, out to pillage musical history for any loot they can lay their hands on. Magnificently, it's possible to hear the influence of everything from Captain Beefheart to Miles Davis, from Spanish mariachi guitar to rambunctious Cossack dance rhythms surfacing between the tight, ragged grooves of "I Remember When" and "Shadows Fall". But the staggering thing about The Coral is that it's stuffed to bursting point with ideas, yet presents them all in such stark clarity. It's hard to pick an album highlight, but it's probably a toss-up between the curious, swooping fable of "Simon Diamond" and the unfettered insanity of "Skeleton Key", which finds frontman James Skelly croaking "Solid gold skeleton key / opens the most intricate lock / Brother roll another for me/ I am shipwrecked on the rocks!" as his bandmates caw like parrots in the background. The Coral are off on a totally mental trip. It would take a fool, however, to choose not to join them. --Louis Pattison

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