Coral The Invisible Invasion

All too often young bands appear out of nowhere with a staggering debut album only to lose the magic and wander into obscurity. Liverpudlian scene rejuvenators the Coral didn’t suffer that fate, but it’s safe to say that album number two, Magic & Medicine — as nice as it was — paled in comparison to their brilliantly wonky self-titled debut. (Let’s not even mention last year’s slapdash Nightfreak & the Sons of Becker.) For The Invisible Invasion, the Coral knew something had to change to keep going and so they’ve taken the initiative and hired the unlikely production team of Portishead’s Geoff Burrows and Adrian Utley. As a result, the initial reaction is surprisingly conservative, considering the past work of these two forces. "She Sings the Mourning” kicks things off nicely with a tight, bouncing rhythm and shivering guitars, but immediately after, "Cripples Crown,” does a little crippling of its own. While they can still pump out a strong psyched up freak-out ("Arabian Sand”), it feels as though the Coral are now at their best when it comes to sunny folk-pop like "So Long Ago,” "In the Morning” (which utilises steel drums masterfully) and the endearingly mournful "Late Afternoon.” But as unchallenging as M&M was, it still managed to conjure up moments of mind-squelching psychedelia amongst the folkie melodies. They’ve taken no chances here with The Invisible Invasion, and played it safe, despite such unorthodox taste in producers, which leaves you to think of how wasteful this collaboration really is and where/what/who the Coral will turn to next. (Deltasonic)