The fifth studio recording (unless you count the “mini-album” that was Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker) from The Coral took two years to write and is comprised largely of road-tested material. It’s also the first recording for the band that does not feature Bill Ryder-Jones, but the five piece still sounds lush and expansive.
Eight years after drumming up considerable hype from the excitable British press, The Coral re-enter the atmosphere with what essentially amounts to a ’60s folk record. There are gentle, gauzy ballads and there are full, mature rockers. The band negotiates a mythology with their approach, tossing us back into the waters of time long forgotten by most modern musicians.
Indeed, Butterfly House is an album of flowing clothes and wide open fields of flowers and grass. It’s a satisfying album and lacks all showiness. The Coral play through organically and Butterfly House maintains a breezy air. With all the maturity of these songs, it sounds like the quintet from Hoylake is having some serious fun.
The record opens with a Morricone-tinged piece, fittingly opening wide the world of sonic possibilities. “More Than a Lover” carries with it a nearly ominous melody and the desert-dry twang stabs through the sand with the insistence of a rattlesnake.
The album carries with it a maturity that flaunts the growth of these lads. The beautiful “Walking in the Winter” is a tremendous example, with its pensive brand of James Taylor folk. Vocalist James Skelly provides just the right taste of bereft bard to intoxicate.
John Leckie, the producer behind The Stone Roses’ debut and Radiohead’s The Bends, is behind the wheel for Butterfly House. His approach is clear from the start, carrying the band’s tone through the pieces. The songs are quite polished, which may or may not work for some listeners. Those who find value in the stripped-down vibe of 2007’s Roots & Echoes may need more time with Butterfly House, but the refined sound really does fit the broadness of the band’s vision.
“She’s Coming Around” and “Butterfly House” explore the darker side of The Coral. Built on monumental guitar and haunting vocal passages, the two songs make up the unearthly portion of the program.
With Leckie’s production and the band’s intelligent insistence on sticking with the plan, Butterfly House is another brilliant record for The Coral. It may not have the Primal Scream-esque energy of their debut, sure, but it damn well better not.
The Coral is a band channeling sophistication and they’re a long way off from the 19-and-20-year-olds of their opener, showing us that sometimes sticking with the program is the best way to demonstrate change.
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