There are some bands that I am attached to for a variety of reasons. Arguably, my favorite band of the last 10 years, is Liverpool’s unheralded and relatively unknown outside of their native U.K, The Coral. I eagerly anticipate their records in a way that is reserved for only my favorite of favorites. After 5 records, The Coral have ascended to that level for me. Butterfly House is their 6th record following 2007’s underrated “Roots & Echoes“.
The Butterfly House LP was preceded by the title track (which is available for free download on their website) and the first single, “1000 Years” both of which I was impressed with enough to include on two of my recent “mixtapes” which I have enjoyed doing. Vocalist and primary songwriter, James Skelly, has a wonderful baritone that really drives home the English aspect of their music with his scouse accent weaving the songs in a very La’s-esque pastiche that is eerily reminiscent of the aforementioned “The La’s” and even Ian Brown, who made late 80s and early 90s Manchester rock incredibly accessible while leading the great “Stone Roses“.
Butterfly House is arguably The Coral‘s most complete album to date. Many fans of the band point to their 2002 self-titled debut as their penultimate record. I don’t, however. I am of the opinion that “Roots & Echoes” is their best work to date and I feel that in short order, “Butterfly House” will take that title away. This is without question a “perfect” summertime album.
The album opens very gracefully with a track entitled, “More Than a Lover” with a psychedelic guitar riff and lyrics that are straight-forward and honest. I like the fact that Skelly is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. This is very much an undercurrent of the record. This particular track is underscored with layered harmonies and decidedly English pop hooks.
The first real highlight of the record, for me, is track #4, entitled “Sandhills“. A beautifully crafted pop tune dealing with relationships, which is a common theme throughout the record. It recalls Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, and again (this is becoming a theme), The La’s all at once. Not a bad pedigree to remind people of. Even the handclaps are placed perfectly in this gem of a tune.
The album rarely loses focus and is an incredibly tight pop/rock nugget. On one hand, it’s very Coral, but the maturity that the band show in both the musicianship and songwriting cannot be understated as its clearly a step up in terms of arrangement and lyrical crafstmanship from their prior works. The ballad, “Falling All Around You“, may be, not only the best ballad the band have ever written, but the sweetest thing I have heard all year. Folky acoustic flourishes and a gorgeous lyric that really hit home for me. I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is when a song hits you and almost hurts at how well it does. “I’m falling all around you“, how many of us can relate to that line when thinking of a special someone at one point or another in our lives? “In the morning, when the sun will rise, and the day is new, I’m falling all around you”. Requited love, is undoubtedly, the greatest love of all.
Lead single, 1000 Years is a great slice of folky psychedelia. “Seasons in your mind, colors that change with the passing time, you’ll find your way.” Is it 1967? Buffalo Springfield would be proud to call this track their own. The harmonies are gripping and the track never overstays its welcome. After hearing it every day multiple times for over a month, has not gotten old.
The album is a short 12 tracks, but the band have made available a variety of versions, including the somewhat cliched now, “Deluxe Version”. While there are some gems to be heard in the extra 6 tracks the band have included with this release, I found that none of them quite matched up to the album’s 12 primary cuts. They did an excellent job in choosing the base album tracks as they are all the cream of this crop of new material.
In a year that has been filled with some very strong releases by already established acts, The Coral, (again, I’m biased as they’re a true favorite) has once again proven they are amongst the strongest acts in rock music today and still relatively unknown, which I find borderline criminal. Cleverly drawing on their influences and incorporating their own panache, James Skelly and the rest of the band have made an album that they should be extremely proud of and should stand the test of time if all is right in the world.
Mixing pop, classic psychedelic rock, folk, and even some jazz, Butterfly House is a welcome addition to 2010’s musical crop.
Butterfly House is released on July 12th in the UK via all good retail outlets and download locations.