The Coral is such an underrated band, and to my great chagrin seldom does it tour in the US (hint, hint). Everyone’s heard of the Libs, why not The Coral? In its seven year recording history, which began with the Shadows Fall EP (2001), the seven (sometimes six, sometimes five) boys (by now, men) from Hoylake, Liverpool have produced some of the most eclectic music to come out of the UK in the last decade.
The Singles Collection, Mysteries and Rarities is a mammoth two-disc, 33-song musical joyride. A cram session for The Coral novices and an early Christmas gift for The Coral buffs, the compilation features previously unreleased tracks (including live cuts, covers, and rare demos) and eight new songs, all in addition to the band’s top trademark singles.
Disc One showcases The Coral’s singular brand of 60’s-influenced guitar pop (here, psychedelia, there, folk) at its most potent. With songs like the instant classic “Dreaming Of You” and the sweet, jingly “In The Morning” placed alongside tracks of a darker palette (the tidal “Shadows Fall”, the eulogistic “Bill McCai”), one is given a sense of the band’s artistic reach, not only as dedicated musicians but as romantic, experimental yarnspinners.
Sometimes The Coral can come off a bit, err, out-there, but only by virtue of what is, when you get right down to it, an adventurous musical enthusiasm. Disc Two complements Disc One in this regard, adding texture where there was only line, by offering more rough cut stuff: “Seagulls”, which was “recorded in Ian’s bedroom”, the “Calendars and Clocks” demo, a “Shadows Fall” instrumental. There’s even a cover of the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love”. What the hell, why not, right?
Missing? The haunting B-side “Boy At The Window”. My only complaint.
For some interesting backstory, I suggest checking out James Skelly’s track-by-track mini-memoir on the band’s official website.