The Coral: Move Through the Dawn review – vintage songs of sad euphoria

(Ignition Records)

Although the Coral started in Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula in the 1990s and were Mercury-nominated in 2002, they were so young that, even after two decades, the core members are still only in their 30s. Along the way, they’ve lost two guitarists (the mercurial Bill Ryder-Jones, not once but twice) and a mentor (Deltasonic’s late Alan Wills), gained a Zuton in Paul Molloy, and dabbled in every genre from weird Wirral folk to cosmic funk and songs about maggots.

It’s been a strange trip, and following 2016’s robustly psychedelic Distance Inbetween, their ninth album brings yet another handbrake turn. Apparently inspired by the playlist at Wirral fair (from Del Shannon to Phil Spector’s 1970s albums with Dion and the Ramones), this time it’s partially back to the 1960s balladry of 2005 smash In the Morning and 2007’s exquisite Jacqueline. Opener Eyes Like Pearls almost plays Coral bingo in the way it ticks all their vintage boxes, with watery references, a melancholy yearning for youthful innocence and a sublime, lilting chorus (“Eyes like pearls in the warming seas / as deep as the ocean, as wide as the valley / all my troubles seem so far away from me”).

Distance Inbetween pushed the “freakout” button, but most of the songs here are built on frontman James Skelly’s forensic understanding of pop construction, with killer chord changes and musical shifts between melancholy and euphoria. Reaching Out for a Friend is almost new wave. She’s a Runaway is haunting and wistful. Their psychedelic tendencies surface most on Eyes of the Moon – which may feature a flute – and the hazy Outside My Window. Conversely, acoustic ballad After the Fair (beautifully fingerpicked by Nick Power) finds Skelly at his most unashamedly dreamy, with carousel/fairground imagery, a whirling organ and an emotionally loaded lyric about looking to tomorrow “before it’s gone away”.

There’s nothing here that pushes the envelope for pop, or even for the Coral, but there doesn’t always need to be. It’s another lovely, solid effort from one of Britain’s most enduring bands.

Contributor

Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Coral: Distance Inbetween review – indie veterans make a purposeful return
The psychedelic rockers may no longer be their old playful selves, but their new record is a expert demonstration in controlled, stormy intensity

Michael Hann

03, Mar, 2016 @5:55 PM

Article image
The Coral return: 'Success was like a runaway train – chaotic with no control'
After a breakneck run of hits, the wheels finally came off for the Wirral psych-pop oddballs. Then, just as they were ready to regroup, their mentor died. ‘Nothing prepares you for that’ they tell us

Dave Simpson

03, Mar, 2016 @5:37 PM

Article image
The Coral: Coral Island review – glorious psychedelia for sunny days
Nostalgic without bitterness or regret, the melodies pour out of this double album themed around the titular resort

Michael Hann

30, Apr, 2021 @7:30 AM

Article image
The Coral review – psych pop's sullen cowboys are stuck in the past
The Liverpool band, back from a five-year live hiatus, delivered half-written psych-by-numbers songs in a lacklustre performance

Mark Beaumont

19, Dec, 2016 @11:19 AM

Article image
Band of Horses: Why Are You OK review – indie rockers return to wistful euphoria

Dave Simpson

09, Jun, 2016 @8:00 PM

Article image
Holly Macve: Golden Eagle review – hard-luck songs make like the delta blues

Jon Dennis

09, Mar, 2017 @10:15 PM

Article image
Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat to Earth review – beautiful, unsettling songs

Michael Hann

03, Nov, 2016 @9:45 PM

Article image
The Coral review – ready again for liftoff
The rejuvenated Mersey five-piece host a trippy party to showcase their comeback album Distance Inbetween, and throw in a heartfelt greatest hits selection too

Dave Simpson

13, Mar, 2016 @3:06 PM

Article image
Angel Olsen: My Woman review – beautiful songs full of things to pore over

Tom Hughes

01, Sep, 2016 @8:30 PM

The Coral: Butterfly House | CD review
The Heston Blumenthals of pop have become much more predictable in their use of ingredients, fears Maddy Costa

Maddy Costa

08, Jul, 2010 @8:59 PM