Just sometimes, you wish The Coral hadn’t left their playful side at the studio door.
Rowan Collinson 2007
All things considered, it’s astonishing how the Coral have established themselves as one of Britain’s biggest guitar acts. After all, this is a band in thrall to the late sixties psychedelia of Arthur Lee and prone to breaking into sea shanties at any moment. Yet having had the second most played song on radio in 2005 with “In The Morning”, they’ve clearly found a niche between patrons Oasis and Arctic Monkeys with their modern take on Merseybeat.
Their fourth album proper finds The Coral in confident and assured mode. Lead single “Who’s Gonna Find Me” shimmers with twanging guitars, whilst “Jacqueline” is a retro pop peach. Moments like this and James Skelly’s Roy Orbison-ish croon on “Not So Lonely” make listening to Roots and Echoes like being in some sort of time warp - think 1967, not 2007.
Yet, for all its melody and retro stylings, there’s something disappointingly safe about Roots and Echoes. Gone are the sea shanties which made their debut so compelling and the joyous excursions into dub that peppered 2005’s Invisible Invasion. Sacrificing their urge to experiment may have produced a tighter, more accessible Coral, but it also shows up their more average side. When Roots and Echoes is good it’s very good, but when it’s average, it just sounds like…well, Cast.
Roots and Echoes is an accomplished effort from a band clearly comfortable with their place in the mainstream. Just sometimes, though, you wish The Coral hadn’t left their playful side at the studio door.