The Coral – Coral Island: Album Review

Partly inspired  by old photographs of seaside towns, The Coral’s latest album, 25 years on from their formation,  is a welcome, bright and breezy collection of tunes very much instilled with their sixties sound. 

Release Date: 30th April  2021

Label: Run On Records

Format: CD / Vinyl (multiple variants) / Cassette / Digital

Like any other group with the longevity of The Coral they have had their ‘roller-coaster’ years when their popularity waxed and waned whilst retaining a core fanbase.  If the likes of Tull, Genesis, Floyd had their periods redefining themselves, then why not The Coral? Whether it’s differences in musical ideas or just lack of inspiration the cream always rises. Over recent years The Coral have put the cream back into their seaside afternoon tea and scone with The Coral Island.

Just like  a windswept seaside day, a concept album can make the discerning music lover run for shelter but this is a concept album without the pretentiousness and mind baffling cosmic ideas sometimes found on such albums.

The main idea is that the seaside is an adventure playground where you explore instincts that can be exploited to the full…anything goes. Like a family on a seaside holiday, wanting to fill every minute by experiencing the wide variety something for everyone experience, this musical bag of allsorts will have something appealing to you.

Coral Island is packed with wonderful musical ideas interspersed with brief narratives by Grandfather Skelly, whose warm, northern voice perfectly complements the vision of exploring a Northern seaside resort. He  invites you to fall in love before you are dreamily enticed in.

The fact that Blackpool has its own huge multi faceted arcade named Coral Island must be  more than a coincidence!

As many seaside resorts are trying to up their game with wider and cleaner promenades, citing Blackpool and Morecambe as local examples, their album still replicates the more run down picture one still has of many old deteriorating coastal resorts.

On your trip to the seaside you will meet sounds of the British 60’s pop sound and late sixties California rhythms in all their eclectic glory. Ian Skelly in an interview with At The Barrier last year admitted a penchant for Dean Martin and even his Gentle On My Mind shuffling beat is hidden away amongst these beautifully created arcade prizes.

The idea of  being trapped in a seaside resort unable to get out might be a nightmare for the likes of me, I know some who would adore a lifetime in Blackpool but listening to this double album keeps you attracted to the next part of your seaside adventure. You never realise you are unwittingly trapped as you look forward to the next track as much as your next portion of fish and chips or piece of sticky rock.

To accompany the album there is a book entitled Over Coral Island, written by Nick Power and illustrated by Ian Skelly, which follows the plot of a scheme to power waves using uranium at the Suncentre. Despite this grim proposition the  music bounces along in sunny fashion, your nostalgic juices of childhood summer holidays will be thoroughly satisfied but don’t be surprised if  those illusions of  seaside resorts which retain their carnival  cheerfulness permanently doesn’t take a surprising jolt. 

Ian Skelly says some songs, ‘are soundtracks to the rides soundtracking the lives of the other characters of the other songs that made it easier  to put together and make sense.’

Nick Power adds, ‘It’s based on a false nostalgia. We’ve created an adult world that’s been rewired through a child’s  eyes.’

If you’ve visited holiday places of your childhood as an adult and the perception of them is totally different to what you expected then you can see where The Coral are coming from.

So stroll along the promenade, take a trip down to the end of the pier arcade with The Coral; but beware the chilly days of stacked up deck chairs and sand drifting across the tramlines. The typically English lyrics clearly show that the quaintness of  English life did not lyrically die with the Kinks but it still living and breathing through The Coral.

The Coral: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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