30 July 2010

The Coral: "Butterfly House"

I could easily divide my music collection into three broad categories: oldies but goodies, stuff I own, and new material. There are “classic” albums that I go back to often, like The Cure’s “Disintegration,” Annie Lennox’s “Diva,” or The Kink’s “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.” These are the kind of albums that have formed and molded my musical tastes. Then there is the stuff I own, some old, some new, that may have been novelty, shit that friends have recommended, or material that was simply sub par. Then there is the new material that I really like. For the most part, this music is full of younger artists, usually within three albums of their career; it is not often that a veteran act makes its way to this group. Something usually happens to bands after a few years: complacency leads them to churn out the same old shit and I loose interest. So when I heard that The Coral was going to release a new album, of which the music was played lived previously, I was on the fence. I was not sure how I was going to feel about it, but definitely leaning towards “stuff I own…” I even debated with myself about getting this album or not, but “Butterfly House” (12 July 2010 in the UK, 27 July 2010 in the USA as an import) immediately jumped into my iPod as new material I love.

Recorded in part at the legendary RAK studios, The Coral sport out a sophisticated neo-psychedelia sound that does not sound dated or contrived. Apparently, they are running away as fast as they can from current trends, embracing the 60s as their model. Earlier in their career, especially at the time of their debut, there was a lot of buzz about this band – that is how I discovered them, because the buzz had them out to be the next best thing since white sliced bread. Then the growing-pains started, years of experimenting with their music and style, which alienated more and more people. The buzz finally started to die out, which as I have always said is a good thing! Finally able to compose music on their terms, and not with the expectations of what is supposed to come next, the band finally reached their fifth album, “Butterfly House.” Straight-forward, sleek, beautifully recorded… any critiques of the band seems to lull away when listening to the album. Let the buzz begin again!

The band has matured, which is the inevitable, but not always the most popular thing to do. (Nothing is more unflattering than musicians post the 30-year mark still singing as if in high school!) Opening with viscerally the most aggressive song, “More Than a Lover,” laced with beautiful acoustic strumming (something I am a sucker for), is the perfect introduction to this musical journey: amazing acoustic guitar arrangements, gorgeous layers of music, and mature lyrics: “More than a lover, don’t you know you’ll always be a good friend to me…. But what’s done is done, so I sing to you a song we left unsung.” No remorse, no regret, just the emotional distance of knowing that life moves on. The chosen lead single, “1000 Years,” with a simple but alluring guitar solo, may lack the catchiness of single trends lately, but it offers up a sincerity that is rare. My favorite track is the carnival-esque “Coney Island.” Having spent many of my childhood days there, with my cousins from Pennsylvania and brother, I always remembered it not as this jovial place, but a locale with a sad undertow. Any joy that came from the place was from our antics – of which there were many. This feeling I always got from Coney Island is captured musically to perfection.

What is the album devoid of? Indie clichés, 80s mania, or obviously made for radio music. The Coral’s “Butterfly House” is one of those sophisticated albums meant to be listened to as such. Though you would definitely get pleasure from listening to any one of these tracks, this is really a musical journey meant to be listened to from beginning to end. This is part of the reason why I refuse to extrapolate this album track-by-track; I would rather hope that you are inspired to listen to it beginning to end. Considering that this is one of those standout albums in the field of releases, it may just end up being one of your favorites.

Track Listing:
1. More Than a Lover
2. Roving Jewel
3. Walking in the Winter
4. Sandshills
5. Butterfly House
6. Green Is the Colour
7. Falling All Around You
8. Two Faces
9. She’s Coming Around
10. 1000 Years
11. Coney Island
12. North Parade
13. Into the Sun – limited edition bonus disc
14. Coming Through the Rye – limited edition bonus disc
15. Dream in August – limited edition bonus disc
16. Another Way – limited edition bonus disc
17. Circles – limited edition bonus disc

Keep up with The Coral at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is their video from “1000 Year” from the deltasonicrecords YouTube Channel.

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