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The Coral: Distance Inbetween

Scouse-pop whimsy makes way for prog-psych lushness.

As the old chicken abuse joke could have gone, ‘you wear one samurai helmet…’ Even through their chart-busting years in the mid-00s, when albums such as 2003’s Magic And Medicine were huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic and Dreaming Of You was as ubiquitous as shite Leigh Francis impressions, Liverpool’s The Coral were still haunted by their quasi-novelty past of wizardly photo shoots and shanties about Simon Pieman.

It’s taken eight albums and a five year hiatus to get them here; a ‘reunion’ record indebted to Scott Walker, The Byrds and suave pop revivalists The Last Shadow Puppets. Doing krautrock. Buzzing synths drone, faux strings sweep and the band, led by singer James Skelly, spread lush, layered 60s harmonies over the top like a very late audition for Woodstock.

Envisioning sci-fi detective themes (Chasing The Tail Of A Dream), mariachi manhunts (It’s You) and Wall-E Of Arabia (Connector), it’s an imaginative if one-level album, animating only for the scuzzy motorik blues pop of Million Eyes, Fear Machine and Holy Revelation or the crisp, catchy psych-pop of Miss Fortune. Still, consider the spectre of the samurai shoot finally exorcised.