13 Oct 2014

Album Review: The Coral "The Curse of Love"

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

In mid 2005, Bill Ryder Jones announced that he would be leaving the Coral. Coming off the artistic growth shown on "The Invisible Invasion", this was a bit of a shock for the band and fans alike, but the Coral soldiered on, and "The Curse of Love" came into being. Ryder Jones was then enticed back into the fold, and it was decided that rather than continue on with a set of songs that he had no involvement with, that the recordings would be shelved - until now that is.

I had high hopes for "The Curse of Love". It was recorded between my two favourite Coral albums ("The Invisible Invasion" and "Roots & Echoes"), and a bit of emotional turmoil is always good to get the artistic muse fired up, so how could it possibly disappoint? On the other hand, there was always the possibility that maybe the band realized that these songs weren't up to snuff, and took the opportunity to start afresh with a breath of relief? So which is it?

Any lingering doubts over that latter scenario are quickly dispelled on first listen here. "The Curse of Love" may lack the immediate hooks that characterized their albums up to this point, but there's a noticeable maturity on show here, which makes the quantum leap in songwriting depth between "The Invisible Invasion" and "Roots & Echoes" make a whole lot more sense.

Ryder Jones' absence also seems to have encouraged the remaining members to branch out a little more too (something that they've never been adverse to anyway). The gorgeous "Wrapped in Blue" for instance, manages to effortlessly merge an acoustic skiffle shuffle with pulsing krautrock (quite prescient, considering how in vogue this currently is), with fluttering backwards guitars.

And while the choruses may showcase a subtlety that rewards those who listen actively more than ever, the exotic, eastern tinged arrangements on tracks like "The Curse of Love (Part 1)" are to die for, and entice the listener to invest the time needed to reap the full benefits of this extremely rewarding set.

Pre-order the CD here, and if you're quick, you can snag the limited edition vinyl LP here.
NME have an exclusive stream of the full album here now!

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