The Coral - Butterfly House
Harry Milburn 24/07/2010
Don't call it a comeback! Actually, yes. Let's call it a comeback. Because The Coral (remember those loveable, vaguely psychedelic Skelly-led scallies?) had fallen off the radar like a Stealth Bomber prior to this album. A greatest hits record released in 2008 threatened to see them consigned to the annals of musical history; where they were to be filed strictly under 'early 00s'- and 'early 00s' alone- at that.
Which would have been a shame. Because clearly, they still have a lot to offer. 'Butterfly House'- their first album proper since 2007's unremarkable 'Roots & Echoes'- is as accomplished a return as it is a welcome one- and it shows emphatically that The Coral aren't dried up yet. Evidentially too, they are no longer to be dismissed as a 'singles band'. This feels much more like a cohesive album than previously; meaning there are several real highlights rather than one stand out moment- 'Walking In The Winter' is a sweet and gentle ballad, whilst 'She's Comin' Around' sees that distinctive Scott Walker sound the Last Shadow Puppets so freely embraced given another successful reincarnation. Then there's the lovely 'Falling All Around You' - which is like Simon & Garfunkel sung by Scousers (which is better than it sounds). And to dwell on the whole 'based near Liverpool' thing, the brilliant 'Two Faces' (recalling in parts'Ticket To Ride') seems to see the band embracing Merseybeat,resulting in something as catchy a fishing rod with 50 hooks. The psychedelic single '1000 years'- dripping with phased vocals and lush harmonies- and impressively retro title track and radio favourite 'Butterfly House'- should not go without praise either.
But that's not to say that aren't some lowlights. 'Green Is The Colour Of Her Eyes' seems a little clichéd- something The Coral, for all their nods to nostalgia, are normally able to avoid. It also sounds like parts of 'Jacqueline' have lazily been tacked onto it. That famous lone chord (Fadd9, according to George Harrison) that opens final track 'North Parade' always leaves a launch into anything less than The Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night' feel disappointing; but even without it the closing wash of heavy electric guitar at the end is painfully incongruous with the overall sound of the album.
Nevertheless, 'Butterfly House' is more than pleasant enough. The genre-switching youngsters with a penchant for pirates have, regrettably (and somewhat inevitably), fully 'matured' now- there's no 'Spanish Main's or 'Skeleton Key's here. But if their previous releases saw them suffering from growing-pains whilst trying to figure out who they were, 'Butterfly House' sees a band now finally comfortable in their own skin. The majority of songs here are very well realised; and the moments that really work excite. So yes, do call it a comeback! And a good one at that.