12 Tracks; CD, LP
Article by: Sean McNamara
The Coral have overcome adversity and quietly build on their reputation as one of the UK's best bands.
Ever since The Coral released their self-titled 2002 debut album, they have held a special place in my music collection. Their brand of 60's psychedelia mixed with folk and, at times, other random experiments always fascinated me, especially their ability to create the type of songs that stick in your head for weeks. (I dare you to listen to "In The Morning" or "Dreaming Of You" and forget them instantly!) However, after the departure of guitarist and founding member Bill Ryder-Jones and the release of a greatest hits collection, I found myself a bit hesitant to listen to their new effort Butterfly House.
Boy was I wrong. This record surpasses their commercially successful 2007 album Roots & Echoes, and shows that The Coral are a band who have learned from experience and now knows what type of songs work for them. Album opener "More Than A Friend" stands out, as James Skelly (vocals, guitar), Paul Duffy (guitar), Nick Power (keyboards), Lee Southall (bass), and Ian Skelly (drums) create a delightful background of intertwining guitars, a rolling base line, and a very soulful vocal. The same can be said for "The Roving Jewel", but then the album begins to sound more like a typical offering from The Coral. "Walking In The Winter" begins with a stomping beat and soft, harmonic vocals that build to a catchy chorus, while the energetic "Sandhills" will have you wanting to clap along.
The one element of The Coral's music that sometimes weighs down their albums is their tendency to overdo the psychedelic side of some songs. Songs like "Arabian Sand" and "In The Forest", despite how inventive and groundbreaking they might sound to some, have caused others to write this band off. On Butterfly House, the band have got the recipe bang-on! The album's title track is sprinkled with a touch of The Byrds, and maybe The Beatles in their "Rubber Soul" era, neither of which are a bad thing at all. The voice-over playing in the chorus is a bit weird, but that's one of the reasons to love this band. Oh, and while I am mentioning The Beatles, the only sure-shot rip off on this album is the opening guitar chord on "North Parade", which could have easily just been recorded from "A Hard Day's Night". "1000 Years" floats around in a sweet cloud, and it's slightly distorted vocal and lead guitar solo lend themselves well to the melody of the song, and the slightly spooky sounding "Coney Island" stand out by changing the feel of the album up. One noticeable difference on Butterfly House, probably due to the departure of Bill Ryder-Jones, is a noticeably less amount of guitar solos. This causes the songs to be tighter, and flow easier.
If you have never heard of this band, or gave them a listen to years ago and just never caught up with them, please get out and buy Butterfly House. It's easily one of the better albums that have been released this summer, and The Coral deserve tons of credit for keeping their focus and passion in tact and continuing to make amazing music.