“Note to self: We were creating some genuinely exciting psych-tinged indie pop with a ’60s vibe that was critically lauded and fairly commercial, so for this album we should definitely go more towards simplistic arrangements than all that artsy stuff.” I’d imagine that was written on a post-it note by The Coral stuck on a rehearsal room wall or the attached to the mixing desk while the band embarked on making sixth album, The Butterfly House. It was probably put up as far back as The Invisible Invasion.
It’s always a big shame when a band who had seemingly endless potential based on a debut turn out to have a glass ceiling above their heads. In all fairness, this has been apparent with The Coral for a few albums now, however there have always been moments that indicate they’re not ready to fall into Zutons/Rascals territory yet. Unfortunately, with The Butterfly House this is all too apparent. For starters, there’s no urgency on display anywhere in the first four tracks. I’m not angling for a bombastic opener to kick-off proceedings, but there needs to be something intriguing to draw any listener in to wanting to listen to the album more. When your first four tracks are so bland and unengaging they begin to sound like the same song you know you’re digging a hole.
It takes until fifth track “Butterfly House” for The Coral to display aforementioned urgency with a furious jam at the end of the song. Note, only the end of said song. For the most part the start of “Butterfly House” plods along much like the previous four. However, it certainly is a highlight. “Two Faces” raises the tempo considerably, while ender “Circles” sounds suitably old Coral-like with eerie keys elevating the chorus to a different level and reverb-soaked vocals accentuating the creepy nature of the song and highlighting what The Coral do best.
Those are, however, the only highlights. The Coral seem content to fill the rest of The Butterfly House with lazy, summery songs that don’t really go anywhere between start and end, nor do they provide a challenge for the listener like The Coral and Magic and Medicine do. It’s a sad state of affairs that The Coral have come to this, the descent into already trodden territory highlighted further by The Last Shadow Puppets releasing a fresh sounding album that was firmly rooted in the ’60s sound and Arctic Monkeys continuing to mix modern influences with their ’60s influences. Put simply, British indie pop has well and truly left The Coral behind.
How apt that in creating an album that is, arguably, their most pop album, they still can’t reach the dizzying heights of “Dreaming Of You.”