With The Coral announcing a December date in Glasgow, we revisit their most recent record, ‘Distance Inbetween’.
You could probably count on one hand the number of bands who have, after a lengthy break, returned to with an album that allows for a wholesale reaffirmation of their genius-like qualities in the first place. Think maybe of Pixies, The Verve and Blur. The Coral’s self-imposed half decade hiatus left us wondering if they would return at all, never mind return to the form of 2002’s self-titled debut or 2004’s Magic & Medicine.
With the wait finally over, The Coral, in 8th studio album ‘Distance Inbetween’, have rewarded us with a surprisingly dark, visceral and at times hypnotic album that, blending elements of krautrock and psychedelic-pop influences, is evocative and thoroughly appealing.
It seems the band have been happy to cast off their commercial pop gem sensibilities, trading them in for a richer, more rhythmic and minimal sound that nevertheless doesn’t lose sight of the bands’ aptitude for luscious pyschedlic rock, as evidenced by the raucous ‘Chasing The Tale of A Dream’ and kaleidoscopic, backwards-guitar heavy ‘Miss Fortune’.
The presence of former Zutons guitarist Paul Molloy, whether wilfully or not, has helped to ignite a Coral sound that feels as honest, authentic and corporeal as they could perhaps have hoped for, dipped in early Neil Young, Love, and even Pink Floyd influences.
With James Skelly’s signature vocals appearing and disappearing like a distant wind, the band – celebrating 20 years together – place heavy drums, restrained guitars and occasional keyboard surges at the forefront of this rhythmic-centred approach, with the 12 tight-knit songs offering a well-sewn atmospheric and trippy tapestry.
Opener ‘Connector’ is an absorbing, rhythmic voyage that lurks into dark, gothic territory, as Skelly exclaims, “I’m the connector, you’re the receiver/You’re the rejecter, I’m the believer.”
With ‘White Bird’ sonic soundscapes intertwine with their trademark vocal harmonies in an ode to 60’s style psychedelia, before ‘Distance Inbetween’ changes direction with its piano-centred broody love lament.
‘Million Eyes’ sees Molloy’s gravelly guitar lick and Skelly’s warped vocal verge into glam rock, as highlight ‘Holy Revelation’ gives off a distinctly Route 66 car anthem charm, a sound replicated in the equally impressive, Queens of the Stone Age-esque ‘Fear Machine’, as Skelly scowls “But I won’t be your prisoner/Deep inside the fear machine.”
Rarely have made such a marked, yet purposefully positive, deviation in their sound, embodied within what is essentially a concept album of skilfully juxtaposed melodic indie-pop and vintage psychedelic airs. One which still has a capacity to mesmerise that few bands other than The Coral can do.