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Columbia Spectator Staff

Spectator Senior Writer D. Sloane Morris (in plain text) and Senior Staff Writer Graham Moore (in italics) are prone to drink. Last night, they took their lush behavior into the Spectator's offices and, distressingly, into the process of critiquing The Coral's recent self-titled release.

The hype on The Coral goes as follows: these lads are the nextest of the next; the best new big thing out of Liverpool since Echo & The Bunnymen were the best new big thing out of Liverpool.

Echo and the Bunnymen totally are the best new big thing out of Liverpool. Ocean Rain still feels fresher than such unabashedly retro swill.

But old works for The Coral. These kids do the wizened-beyond-their-years vocal thing better than anyone in recent memory (making an exception for Nash Kato). Think Joe Cocker. Think Jim Morrison. Think Alex Chilton in the Box Tops.
Dude, did you just get a summer internship at NME or something? Everything recorded east of Long Island sounds like Alex Chilton to those people.

But think Alex Chilton if he were a pirate! How awesome is that?
Well, he actually might have been high enough at some point in 1974 to have in fact seriously believed himself to be a pirate. And smart money says he's knocked off at least a liquor store since then, if not some trans-continental frigate.

The Coral sing psychedelic sea shanties, fer chrissakes! These songs are about shipwrecks and black dust and sin (not any particular variety, just sin) and smothered in swirling guitars and organs. Sure, organs always swirl, but the guitars also sound like they're being abused by drunken pirates.

Alright, I'll give you that one. I like pirates as much as the next man, don't get me wrong; the organ, too, is such a sadly neglected instrument nowadays that it honestly does bring a smile to my face just to hear someone making decent use of one. But good lord man, there's enough retro kitsch on this record to choke the horse from one of those Duran Duran videos.

But pirates don't ride horses. Sometimes they sing doo wop songs, though. Except that those songs sound like Beck. Or somebody imitating Beck. Which is what The Coral seem to be doing. But Beck never sounded like a pirate. Of course, the Lizard King was never a pirate either. He just whipped his dick out onstage. The Coral haven't done that yet. As far as I know ...

Hey, they're just kids, give them time. I'm sure if '60s stage nudity comes back into style like '60s garage production has, they'll jump on that bandwagon too. Remember, the cool thing about Beck was always that, "Debra" aside, he never actually re-created some by-gone sound as part of a self-consciously old-timey shtick, but rather just really liked, and was kind of amused by, sex-positive soul, 80s R&B, or whatever. Beck never faked the funk, as it were. These kids fake everything.

They fake everything? But they come from some shithole town on the Irish Sea. I mean, they were really raised by pirates. Don't you know that's where pirates come from? Sure, these kids are obsessed with tradition, but that tradition mostly seems to involve plundering merchant ships on the high seas. And they sing about it! Talk about your bling-bling; try some of this Spanish bullion.
Have you seen the album cover? Damned bowl-cuts and cheek bones. These scrawny mods couldn't plunder a churros cart. I bet even you could take them.


The Coral

The Coral

Deltasonic Records (2002)