The Coral - Butterfly House
Yet more evidence that when it comes to inspiration, it's to the 1960s that British bands continually return when in need of a little artistic boost. The Coral, who've never been shy about where their roots lie, ramp up the psychedelia for this, their sixth studio album. Dreamier and more homogeneous than their past work, it is also more overtly steeped in the decade of flowers in the hair and free love. Produced by John Leckie (Stone Roses, The Verve, Radiohead) Butterfly House is, mostly, a beautiful collection of pop tunes that is going to have you itching for your tie-dye and love beads.
Starting off with 'More Than a Lover', the songs seamlessly weave their way through the running time, James Skelly's voice gliding over the pop melodies and adding a bit of substance to the lush arrangements, typified by 'Roving Jewel'. In fact, his strong vocals keep the tunes from descending too far into musical cliché, but there are times when the music gets a bit lost in the epoch that so inspires them. The Ten Tears After-esque title track and the Byrds-y 'Green Is The Color' are cases in point. 'Two Faces' shows off the band's prodigious vocal harmonies and is lovely enough - if a bit flat.
The overall tone of the album is upbeat and playful, no doubt due in part to a renewed positivity within the band. Since releasing their Singles Collection in 2008 (and losing bandmate Bill Ryder Jones) this album has the feel of a fresh start. This is evident in the gentle ballad 'Walking In The Winter', while the jovial 'Sandhills' is pure pop glory. There are no hard edges on this album, nothing jarring or glaring. The songs sooth and are as free and easy as the Summer Of Love.
'She's Comin' Around' and '1000 Years' are two highlights. Cool and edgy but with luscious melodies, they demonstrate just how adept this band is at crafting infectious pop tunes. The melancholy 'Coney Island', with its carnival-leaving-town feel, and the wonderful 'North Parade' (with the rousing guitar-laden finish which is certain to become a favourite of the live set) close the album.
It's hard not to like an album inspired by a decade as rich and revolutionary as the 60s, and The Coral do what they do well. And even if the band occasionally get a bit too caught up with "that Lovin' feeling", who can blame them?