The sea-shanties have been banished to Davy Jones’ locker, and the teenage abandon sent on a permanent gap year. It’s hard not to say we saw it coming. The Coral are no longer exciting.
They don’t even seem excited themselves. Hopes may have been high for something a bit cheeky, or even the gypsy charm of ‘Magic And Medicine’, but the ghostly backing vocals and plodding riffs of ‘Roots And Echoes’ are exactly that. They are merely lingering shadows of their vibrant forefathers. James Skelly takes centre stage on ‘Who’s Gonna Find Me’ and ‘Six In The Morning’, leaving the Liverpool bunch lacking the drive and colour that they can deliver. Where he used to strain over a churning bit of Bill Ryder Jones’ strumming, he now dawdles lazily over the top. While there are more subtleties in this one, there isn’t that group cameraderie. That was the thing that set The Coral - only slightly - apart.
The lack of ensemble work isn’t the only problem. While ‘Remember Me’ almost gets going, on ‘Easy Riding’ there is absolutely no change of pace. It’s more tweed-laden farmer than adventuring rogue. If there’s any exploration here, it’s a shirking creep of one.
The sombre tone continues, to finish leaving this lot with little to smile about. It’s a shame. ‘Roots And Echoes’ might have shown that the band aren’t afraid of change, but it’s also confirmed that they’re bloody boring.
The Coral - Sea Of Mirrors Cassette + Holy Joe's Coral Island Medicine Show Cassette + Limited Edition Print