The Coral: Coral Island review – glorious psychedelia for sunny days

(Run On Records)
Nostalgic without bitterness or regret, the melodies pour out of this double album themed around the titular resort

Since returning to releasing new music in 2016, the Coral have been operating with a relaxed expansiveness that suits them. Their third post-hiatus record is their most ambitious yet, a double album that uses the metaphor of a seaside resort – the titular Coral Island – as a home to characters and ideas all linked by their presence to the shore.

The Coral: Coral Island album cover
The Coral: Coral Island album cover Photograph: PR Handout

In all fairness, without the interstitial narration – by the grandfather of James and Ian Skelly, and unabashedly inspired by the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake – there’s a fighting chance you wouldn’t have the slightest idea this was a themed album (not a concept album, they have insisted), but it doesn’t matter in the slightest: this is a glorious, sprawling record, nostalgic both for musics past and resorts now decayed, but without being maudlin or embittered.

Approaching middle age has mellowed the Coral a little – the core of their sound is now focused on a gently psychedelic chug, without the spikiness of their earliest records – but if anything that has led them to focus so completely on melody that they pour out of Coral Island like ice-cream from a Mr Whippy machine.

The single Vacancy is borne in on an organ line that sounds as if it has existed forever; Autumn Has Come is a perfect reverie; Take Me Back to the Summertime, with its splurges of pedal steel, is joyous Merseyside exotica. This is a truly lovely album, sweet without being saccharine, and a perfect accompaniment to the spring sunshine.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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