In the bottom corner of the cover for ‘The Oldest Path EP’ there is a rather dull and grey scene of the seaside, but above it all is a flurry of colourful and exotic images. This, you sense, is a perfect representation of The Coral. Despite superficially looking like nothing special, they produce the most magical, awe-inspiring music. Their songwriting is as mystical and enchanting as that of Mercury Rev, but musically there is simply no one around that you could compare them to. Every song here conjures up vivid images in your head; that is one of The Coral’s great features. Their music is not that of verse/chorus/verse, but more of imagination and a not-from-this-age quality.
This is their second single, the follow up to their debut ‘Shadows Fall’. The first song is the EP’s title track, and is a glorious funk work out. You may baulk at James Skelly’s attempts to sing like an American black man despite being a white boy from Merseyside (A-la Gomez), but it just sounds too good to resist. The second track is ‘God Knows’, and the obvious highlight. ‘We go out, we come in, and god knows where we’ve been’, drawl the vocals, as a mellow country-blues rhythm plays in the backgrounds, and you can a drunken alt-anthem in the making. The next song, ‘Short Balled’, is a sweet and sorrowful love song, which hints at a doo-wop influence. The line ‘She stole my liberty’ is sung as though it’s a fifty year old man telling stories to his grandchildren; not a twenty year old who is just at the beginning of his life.
Now, if you already thought The Coral were a bit weird, then the last track ‘Flys’ will just affirm your suspicions. With its shimmering vocals and creepy lyrics, it sounds as though it was recording in a mental hospital. And the scary noises at the beginning and end don’t help either. 2002 should be theirs.
10Tom Carlin's Score