“I sing for the lover that is lost in the rain, a song for sorrow, a song for the pain. Look to tomorrow before it’s gone, gone away.” There’s a simplicity to “After the Fair”, the final song on The Coral’s new album, Move Through The Dawn.
The lack of complexity in the curtain-closer does not mean a lack of depth or richness. Here, and in the preceding ten tracks, The Coral develop their familiar tones to venture into new territory. There’s something reassuring in James Skelly’s penmanship. Lyrically, the man speaks like a trusted friend who addresses issues on the level. The narrative tone of this album is a man sitting across a from you at a table of drinks. He has good news, he has bad news, and he’ll talk you through the solutions.
Musically, the band return to the kind of easy experimentation that led to their debut album’s Mercury Prize nomination back in 2002. But this isn’t the sound of a band on cruise. The Coral aren’t cashing in on their return to form, on this, their second album after a return from hiatus. Instead, they toy with format and production approach. Skelly twists his words through nuance; you can sing this stuff or you can expose them to deeper poetic scrutiny. Either way, they work better than fine.
From the outset there’s a lightness of touch. “Eyes Like Pearls” sounds like a love letter to Jeff Lynne. The lushness that’s visited on a rhythm guitar brings a deep gloss. Synths swirl, and somewhere in the mix the drum kit is determined to get a car load of friends clapping along. Again, we should use the word ‘simplicity’ – but that’s not to say ‘easy’.
At times, like on “Love or Solution” The Coral play with paradox. The quest here, and throughout the sequence, is to discover authenticity. The pursuit of organic experience in a universe of synthesized emotions establishes the theme. These are trying times, and the pursuit for meaning is filled with uneasy confrontations. “Outside My Window”, and “Stormbreaker” bring weight to the debate. Also here are the kind of hooks that fans of The Coral will hold aloft as examples of what the band does best.
“Sweet Release” is a track that opens all doors to the dance floor. Again, in doing what they do best, The Coral sing in praise of a release from tension. Meanwhile they layer progressions that wind up and keep climbing. Of course the results are enormous fun.
For all the confrontation, and sometimes frustration that’s explored on this album, there’s a sense of optimism that feels integral to the mission statement. Just because we’re at war with the less-than-real doesn’t mean we’re resigned to misery or misanthropic views. No. The Coral are acutely aware of the value of light. Whilst doing battle with the disingenuous, they dance. They refuse to be drawn into the drudgery of debate, instead they signal toward beauty.
The Coral’s eponymous debut was heralded as a statement for the value of guitar bands. Here, in the future of the now, Move Through The Dawn, is a grand example of what can be accomplished when talents are finessed, vision is unified, and a band pursues it’s collective heart. Emotionally engaging, easily sung, and musically fucking delightful. This album sounds like light sounds.
HURRY – LISTEN – THE CORAL
PHOTOGRAPH – JACK PRINCE