The Coral, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

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The Independent Culture

While the prevalent musical trend of the past decade has clearly obsessed upon reincarnating every Eighties style imaginable, Wirral psychonauts The Coral have quietly been refining their musical genius. The hybrid style of r'n'b and a taste for the surreal that defines their sound has consistently strengthened, culminating in the creative vision of their sixth album, Butterfly House.

Their musical sideshow take us down the path that leads into the magical sunlit forest of the imagination. The songs are cinematic, descriptive narrative shorts heavily influenced by West Coast psychedelia. The fantastical mixes with the playful macabre to create a pleasant kaleidoscopic dream world, which echoes through a soundtrack of occasional Morriconesque harmonies and sublime melodies.

Like many Liverpool bands, The Coral keep true to their musical roots. The long-standing love affair the city has with the Sixties sound, a blend of psych, folk-and-country-inspired r'n'b is ingrained in the consciousness of its musicians. A double West Coast infusion exemplifies Liverpool's lone-star status as the keeper of this timeless sound. With their new release, the band reaffirm unequivocally their integrity and commitment to evolving it.

Onstage this evening, the band open with material from the new album. "More Than a Lover" would be at home in a Sixties spaghetti Western soundtrack sung by Scott Walker. "Green Is the Colour" evokes imagery of enchanted forests, solitary knights and ethereal "belle dame" creatures of seduction. In Walking in the Winter, mellow vocals flow over a warm country folk melody. "Two Faces" is a clever Coral spin on West Coast psych-pop, familiar and upbeat. The beautiful acoustic-folk ballad of "Falling All Around You" unfortunately doesn't quite reach the heart of the crowd with this live set but remains a compelling, irresistible and memorable song. The band push the set toward the more up-tempo crowd pleasers such as the baroque, carnivalesque "Simon Diamond", "Wildfire", a rocky Doorsian eulogy, and the garagey "Goodbye", finishing up with a Frisco freak-out in the psychedelic "North Parade".

Six albums in and this eclectic band are proving to be one of the most musically accomplished and influential bands around today.

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