wed 18/01/2017

CD: The Coral – Distance Inbetween | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Coral – Distance Inbetween

CD: The Coral – Distance Inbetween

Forget the absence, this return to form is guaranteed to make the heart grow fonder

When the individual songs are as good at these, cohesion suddenly seems a lot less important
The Coral: clever melodic choices and hooks that refuse to budge

So the Coral have hit their eighth studio album, Distance Inbetween. This is, I’m ashamed to say, news to me. It’s like realizing that a show you used to really like transferred to Sky Atlantic and you’ve failed to keep up and extend your subscription. The question then is how will it be, jumping in now, so far down the line? Particularly when their last offering – 2014’s release of "lost" album, The Curse of Love – comprised an extended flashback sequence that received a mixed response. This is, I’m assuming, the first time that the Coral will have found themselves compared to the ‘85-‘86 run of US soap opera Dallas.

As ever with the Coral, there’s a beautiful blend of nailed-on, sure-shot melodies and some rather epic pissing about with sounds. What this means in practice is a much heavier and more propulsive album than expected, with some utterly captivating moments. “White Bird” manages to conjure images of Conny Plank getting his hands on early CS&N demos, while opener “Connecter” also boasts a similar linear, krauty momentum.

“Million Eyes” on the other hand is a very different beast. While the initial, heads-down frug-chug of the repetitive chords are reminiscent of the sort of sound that Wooden Ships have managed to convince people they invented, there are also shades of Don Fleming's Gumball in the clever melodic choices and the pointed barbs that hook in and refuse to budge. Elsewhere, on “Holy Revelation” and “Fear Machine” the Coral prove themselves masters of balance as heavy, blues-infused rock stays sharp and focused throughout – smart music playing dumb. I assume this is the target Kasabian are aiming for as they pepper their clay feet with shot.

Every now and then the shadow of Scott Walker looms large. It's a shadow that can easily eclipse and obfuscate, but the title track, “It’s You” and “Beyond the Sun” are successful enough to make many contemporary hat-tips to the singer's oeuvre sound like one-dimensional, painting-by-numbers copies.

If there’s a criticism of Distance Inbetween, it’s that there seems to be a lack of cohesion to this, at times, disparate collection. But when the individual songs are as good at these, cohesion suddenly seems a lot less important.  

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