Album review

The Coral : Magic And Medicine

The Coral : Magic And MedicineQuirky Liverpudlians The Coral are back with a new album, bringing with them their usual weird and detached style of psychedelic pop. With an open mind and lack of previous associations, I gave Magic And Medicine a spin . . .
    Opener In The Forest is a bleak and miserable track. The organ in this song is about as far away from happy-go-lucky as it gets, reminiscent of a horrific tragedy scene played out on the Blackpool pier. After the dark introduction, first single Don't Think You're the First is given its place on Magic And Medicine. This is a respectable song and certainly worthy of a release, but sadly lacks the dance floor anthem appeal of Dreaming Of You and the originality of Skeleton Key, two singles from the self titled debut album.
    It seems The Coral are still in touch with their strange and distorted sound, as the weird Talkin' Gypsy Market Blues shows; a song about buying 'Gypsy boots'. Although the 12 track disc itself may not be brilliant, it has to be said have to say that The Coral are certainly more original than most, and their ability to paint a striking musical landscape with each song is second to none. Listening to Magic And Medicine is like being dumped in the middle of a kaleidoscope; there are many avenues of sound explored such as folk and 60s pop, and little reliance on mainstream British indie. Such a variety of sound may be dandy, but this mish-mash of styles soon becomes dull and uninteresting. Listen to All Of Our Love for a terrible example.

There are some almost good moments on the album, such as the use of trumpet and trombone in Eskimo Lament. The highlight song (if there is one) is Bill McCai. The lyrics flow and fit extremely well in this depressing story of a lonely man who wishes he were a boy again. I haven't listened to their debut extensively but the main difference seems to be the sheer nakedness of these songs. Out are the upbeat tempos and deep guitar sound, and in is acoustic guitar on nearly every song, giving the feeling that something is really missing. It seems The Coral have 'dumbed-down' their former sound to present a set of much simpler songs, unfortunately to their disadvantage.
    Some of the songs aren't bad but are hindered by this simple sound, and if they were tampered with and given some of the depth that is present on the self-titled album, Magic And Medicine would probably be a lot better than it is.

:: Graham Drummond

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