Monday, November 7, 2011

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Coral - The Coral

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

I think we can all agree that some of the best music is the music that takes us away from whatever it is that we happen to be doing and transports us, mentally-speaking, somewhere, anywhere else. The Coral, the Liverpudlians who created quite a little stir with this here exceptional self-titled debut LP, certainly do take their fearless listener somewhere else alright. Their world is a technicolor flashback, full of well-mustachioed, swarthy sea shanty spouting sailors (somewhat like those fellows that popped up in Guinness ads a year or so ago) and an assortment of comical, singing (and probably dancing) sea creatures. Yes, really.

The Coral gets underway with the rollicking, slightly Eastern European seaside rumble of "Spanish Main." The rather simple lyrics ("We'll set sail again/we're heading for the Spanish Main") backed with a lively, wild rumpus ooze all manner of adventures on the high seas. A subtle oompah rhythm lulls you into "I Remember When," until of course the waves start to break more heavily and slight instrumental chaos ensues. The oompah shanty jangle the band unleashes over the course of the record is given voice by strains that inhabit a range somewhere between seasoned, salty sailor and sweet, cherubic choirboy.

"Shadows Fall" brings in a little of the spooky beat of the 80s English ska gem "Ghost Town," and raises it some late night rolling fog banks and a Flying Dutchman sighting or two. When the livelier bits kick in, I can almost imagine those skeletal shipmen doing a moonlit jig or two on their phantom deck. "Drop the anchor/lift my heart/from stem to stern I'm torn apart," mourns the song, positively pining. One of my absolute Coral-ian favorites is the jaunty, shipshape "Dreaming of You," wherein the vocals adopt an almost Eric Burdon-esque rasp and the shanty becomes irresistibly bouncy, not to mention catchy.

"Simon Diamond" takes on some of the cosmic spaciness of the Super Furry Animals, all the while retaining that unique 60s sea shanty gone awry vibe. It's a cracked tall tale, full of reverent and delirious silliness. "Goodbye" is another favorite, and perhaps one of the least nautical in feel. The 60s influence is obvious in the melodic, uplifting voices and the playful influx of that jingling tambourine. It's hard to resist, that one. "Skeleton Key" is sublimely ridiculous, hilariously seafaring and all over the place, over the top yet never veering quite over the edge of becoming a caricature of a song instead of just a jolly good song.

Listening to The Coral, it all just makes sense. The band was one of the quirkiest, most clever young bands around when this record came out. They dropped anchor this side of too much, and even if you're a landlubber like yours truly, you'd still be well advised to give this one a fair shake.

m4a: Dreaming of You (The Coral from The Coral)

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