Album: The Coral

The Coral, Deltasonic
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The Independent Culture

There's an awful lot going on in this début album from the Wirral's contribution to the next wave of Brit-pop; rather too much. I

There's an awful lot going on in this début album from the Wirral's contribution to the next wave of Brit-pop; rather too much. Initially attracted by the snaking, Beefheartian guitars of their supercharged sea-shanty single "Skeleton Key", I found the album's constant changes of style, momentum and direction confusing and ultimately frustrating. If a song starts slowly, its chorus is invariably frantic, and vice-versa; and while eclecticism is usually to be welcomed, the Coral take things to absurd extremes. In places, the use of vibes and horns recalls Mexican pan-stylists Titan, or Arizona soundscapers Calexico, but with added English elements, and no apparent sense of restraint. Take a track such as "Shadows Fall", which sounds like a traditional folk song structure given a ska offbeat, Tex-Mex guitars, and vocal harmonies straight out of the Seekers: no matter which way you stir that lot together, it's never going to work properly. Nor, too, the honking baritone sax, organ and polka guitars of "Dreaming of You". More successful is "Goodbye", whose astringent vocals and guitar lines recall the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Compared with the sonic drudgery of Oasis, the Coral's ambition is to be applauded, but their manic invention needs more focus and less activity. Less would be much more.

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