The Coral, six neighborhood boys from England, know one of the golden rules of music: Never take yourself too seriously. Their latest stateside release, The Invisible Invasion, shows that they know both laughs and longing. The album is psychedelic-pop in its freest form, taking the listener on a jaunt through the rolling English hills of the band’s youth.

Jess Cox
Everest or bust!
(Courtesy of Columbia)

James Skelly and Lee Southall lament childhood desires in lyrics such as “I’ll just say heads or tails / Bicycles for sale it’s time to go / But now it seems so long ago.” The sighing acoustic melodies and upbeat percussion are bittersweet against the subtle, melancholy timbre of Skelly and Southall’s resonating voices.

This nostalgic theme is a uniting force in the album, which, full of ironic, light-hearted flair, would otherwise fail. Masterful production furthers this end. Haunting lines seem to echo infinitely though long halls on “A Warning to the Curious.” Rising samples are intricately woven against fuzzed-out guitar in a creepy, psychedelic sound-scape. The sparse layering builds, rising to an intimidating wave of sound. Just as the weight seems too heavy, however, The Coral step back.

From this trippy experience the listener can return to the bouncy pop sounds of “Something Inside of Me,” a light-hearted love ballad promising, “There’ll never be another century / There’s no time to think about the weather.” There is nothing too complicated here, only simple percussion that demands the listener tap is foot and smile at images of the boys playing the local pub with bottles in hand.

Though these transitions keep the album surprisingly fresh and allow the listeners to pause for breath, the one sad aspect is that The Coral seem to take this freedom for granted, delving into areas too shadowy for their own good. On darker tracks such as “Far from the Crowd,” Skelly and Southall become a little too serious with their acoustic guitar, sounding like a depressed Jeff Mangum.

Moving through all sorts of passion and plights, bringing the listener up and sending him down, Invisible Invasion raids minds, hearts and maybe even the dance floor. The boys are a welcome import. Don’t expect anything profound; it’s no image of Jesus in a pancake, but feel free to trip out.


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