Newest Review: ... playful tunes. This album more than any of their previous ones, shows the band maturing into a mellower and yet still distinctive soun... more
The Butterfly Effect!
Butterfly House - The Coral
Member Name: Mauri
Butterfly House - The Coral
Date: 29/11/11, updated on 03/12/11 (100 review reads)
Advantages: Great songs, great music
Disadvantages: None to speak of
If not hugely successful they are certainly well respected in music circles and despite being primarily an album band throughout their career they have managed to make a mark in the charts especially with their earlier singles 'Dreaming of You', 'In the Morning' and 'Pass It On' . The last few years have been a little difficult for the band has they had to adjust to the loss of one of their lead guitarist and founding member Bill Ryder-Jones. The band became a quintet but despite the loss of Ryder-Jones musical talent they seem to have kept their high musical standards and produced their best album since 2003's 'Magic and Medicine' in the form of 'Butterfly House' released in 2010. James Kelly once again takes the lead as vocalist and main songwriter.
Just like its brightly multicoloured floral cover 'Butterfly House' pays homage to the psychedelic folk pop of an earlier age but if you look closely at the cover you might notice there is a skull hidden among the flowers and this is also reflected in the music, the trippy guitar riffs and melodic harmonies always contain darker elements, a slightly discordant sound counterbalancing lighter moments and the sometimes sombre lyrics about loss, unrequited love to mirror some more playful tunes.
This album more than any of their previous ones, shows the band maturing into a mellower and yet still distinctive sound. The sound here is richer, the music more textured. They were hailed as one of the first of the guitar group revival bands and their influence on fellow Merseysiders and label stable-mates 'The Zutons' is there for all to hear.
The album starts off with a belter, 'More Than a Lover' has all the elements you expect from 'The Coral'. After a catchy guitar intro the distinctive voice of James Skelly takes us into a extremely well crafted song full of chord changes and a chorus very reminiscent of the best of soft rock band 'America' with shades of Scott Walker in the vocals. The Coral have always been difficult to pin down musically on the surface their sound is heavily influenced by 60's pop but within that all sorts of weird and wonderful subtext can be heard from the Showaddywaddy-ish sound of 'Dreaming of You' on their first album (yes, I did day Showaddywaddy"), to hints of The Byrds, Beatles, R.E.M and America on this album. 'Roving Jewel' and 'Sandhills' are more 'Jingle jangle' pop but again very well musically crafted and certainly 'Sandhills' could have been released as a single although the actual choice '1000 Years' isn't a bad choice either.
The title song 'Butterfly House' is one of my favourites; Skelly's lead vocals give way to vocal harmonies with the rest of the band members, giving it a dreamy ethereal quality. Once again a catchy riff underpins the whole song and makes it accessible eventually leading to a heavy guitar crescendo at the end. This is serious composition, music for grown-ups. 'Green Is the Colour' is pure psychedelic pop, a sort of 'Yardbirds' meet 'The Byrds' and yet it also manages to be a beautiful love song. 'Falling All around You' is totally different, a short lovely song completely stripped back with just Skelly and a guitar and only a hint of percussion in the background it has a bright airy feel, Simon and Garfunkel at their lightest moments.
It's difficult to find fault with any of the song or to pick real stand out numbers, I think it'll be one of those albums that will bear a lot of listening and each time new favourites will emerge. One of my current favourites is 'Two Faces' again a bright but musically complex pop song in the same way that early Beatles or Beach boys composed their songs, it sounds light but there's a lot going on under the surface. More contemporary comparisons could also be made with the Fleetfoxes although the Coral always retain a slightly harder English post punk sensibility. All the way to the end of the album with the more high-tempo heavier 'North Parade', which starts with a 'Hard Day's Night' single chord, the high standard of composition and instrumentation is maintained.
'Butterfly House' is a perfect little masterpiece and marks a very clear return to top form for a band that has always made intelligent but unpretentious music. A lot of credit must also go to the producer John Leckie who's a veteran of Scouser pop having worked with the Beatles and more recently The La's. His influence can be heard with the use of the distinctive melancholy echo on some tracks and generally giving the music a more colourful, warmer palette.
They do say that is a song is good enough it will still sound great as an acoustic version and to prove the point 'Butterfly House' has also been released as an acoustic only version of the CD, and guess what...it sounds great. In fact it is so good that and the songs take on such different aspect that it is worth listening to as a separate record.
Overall if you're already a fan of The Coral's previous work, especially the early stuff then rejoice, 'Butterfly House' will make you fall in love with their music all over again. If you're new to their music then you're in for a treat if you like your pop intelligent and grown up.
The Coral are...
James Skelly - vocals, guitar, percussion
Lee Southall - guitar
Paul Duffy - bass guitar, saxophone
Nick Power - keyboards, organ, piano
Ian Skelly - drums
1. "More than a Lover"
2. "Roving Jewel"
3. "Walking in the Winter"
5. "Butterfly House"
6. "Green Is the Colour"
7. "Falling All Around You"
8. "Two Faces"
9. "She's Comin' Around"
10. "1000 Years"
11. "Coney Island"
12. "North Parade"
Butterfly house is available to buy on CD or MP3 from Amazon UK fro £4.99 with free delivery.
Summary: A return to form by Liverpudlian psychedelic folk popsters The Coral.