If not for the songwriting, the musicianship, and the diversity of the band’s influences, the young lads of the Coral, from Wirral, England, might run the risk of sounding their age. When their self-titled debut album was released in 2002, all six members were between 19 and 22. The reviews were mostly ecstatic, but a few critics felt that their youthful exuberance and genre-hopping sometimes got the better of them. Truth be told, listening to The Coral was akin to being on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride in the same car with Captain Beefheart, Tito Puente, and the Troggs — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Three years later, and approximately 30 years wiser, the Coral unleash The Invisible Invasion. It’s another collection of Nuggets-worthy psychedelia, but it’s the best collection of Nuggets-worthy psychedelia in recent memory. Most songs on Invasion linger in one aesthetic (although some meander a bit stylistically), but they’ve lost none of the manic energy that made their debut so memorable. “In the Morning” and “Arabian Sand” sound like the band is still excited just to be in a recording studio.
In four albums the Coral have racked up an impressive collection of greatest hits: “Dreaming of You” (from their debut) and “Pass It On” (from 2003’s Magic and Medicine) would likely have been massive singles in a bygone era when commercial success had some loose correlation with artistic merit. Though platinum records and radio hits have been elusive, the band has won its share of celebrity admirers: Noel Gallagher recently called them “the best band in Britain” and Pete Doherty once claimed that he wrote “Dreaming of You” and sold it to the Coral for the paltry sum of a few quid. You’d have to be smoking crack to give up a song that good.
The Coral have a U.K. tour planned for October, plus a gig opening for aforementioned fan Noel Gallagher and Oasis in December.