To a lot of people, The Coral are just another bunch of scousers, a gang of "lads" who jumped on the scallybag bandwagon a few years too late. Oh you stereotypical lot, how very wrong you are.
Because what The Coral actually manage to do is rummage through both theirs and their parents' history books and assemble a modern day collage of the best of five decades worth of incendiary, groundbreaking head music. Three years on from the release of their self-titled debut, The Coral still continue to astound and baffle both avid listeners and detractors alike, particularly those musical snobs who still see the Gallagher and Weller endorsements as guilt by association rather than a genuine appreciation of one of this country's most non-conformist bands of the past decade.
'The Invisible Invasion', like both it's predecessors, takes one or two listens to really get into, but once there has an engaging appeal about it that makes it possibly The Coral's most obvious "singles" album to date.
Not content with just referencing the usual suspects (The Beatles et al), The Coral have a knack of revisiting more recent Merseyside luminaries such as Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch's back catalogue when constructing a tune, and here is no exception, with 'A Warning To The Curious' and 'Far From The Crowd' both casting a knowing glance towards The Teardrop Explodes' 'Sleeping Gas' and 'When I Dream' respectively, as Nick Power's Hammond crashes in and out of time with an opulent menace, orchestrated by the twin twanging of Bill Ryder-Jones and Lee Southall, with James Skelly swooning "If I never had you..." hauntingly punctuating the former, while a wall of reverb halts the latter on both take-off and mid-flight.
Sure enough, The Coral have always done simplistic songs with paramount ease, and 'So Long Ago' and 'Come Home' are no exception, both borrowing from the same guidebook as 'Dreaming Of You' and 'Pass It On' in that their charm lies in the initial feeling that they are so "throwaway" that anyone can write them, despite the fact that seldom few artists do with the aplomb of The Coral.
'Something Inside Of Me' meanwhile is what 'London Calling' would have sounded like if Strummer and Jones had spent the summer of 1978 holed up in Toxteth rather than Brixton, Skelly offering the couplet "The invisible invasion, it's like a stranger, strangled on the moor" that sets it's mushroom'n'opium cocktail apart from The Clash's ganj'n'rum infested r'n'b. Similarly 'The Operator' feels like it could have been lifted from Echo And The Bunnymen's timeless 'Crocodiles' album, as the Manzarek swirl of Power's organ wraps itself around a psychotic groove reminiscent of both the Cavern in the 60s and Erics in the late 70s whilst Skelly opines "they're coming to take me away...".
By far the most engaging track here though is 'Arabian Sand', a five minute blissed out stomp that owes as much to Julian Covey's Northern Soul epic 'A Little Bit Hurt' as it does Liverpool's music hall of fame, and also sees the Coral in (semi)vitriolic mood as they take out their frustration on "the madman in the desert".
Ending with the curtains drawn, time for bed ballad of 'Late Afternoon', it almost seems like The Coral may have burnt themselves out making this record. Let's hope not because 'The Invisible Invasion' is far from being a difficult third album, instead providing another shining example that the Grandsons of Invention have plenty more use for their test tubes and bunsen burners just yet.
8Dom Gourlay's Score