The Coral

Butterfly House

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Five albums into their career -- or six, depending on whether or not you count the limited-edition Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker, which the band apparently doesn't -- the Coral find themselves as close as they've ever come to the "mainstream" with Butterfly House. The U.K. psych revivalists' first two albums are winningly quirky outings full of gloriously skewed pop sensibilities, but from 2005's The Invisible Invasion onward, the band has moved toward an increasingly more straightforward approach. It seems likely that the Coral would have continued in that direction even if guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones hadn't departed before the making of Butterfly House, but his exit may have pushed the band even further from the willful weirdness of its past. The trademark ‘60s influences are still present in no uncertain terms, but instead of drawing inspiration from the druggy, trippy side of that era's sounds, Butterfly House hones in on a more pop-savvy vibe, coming out closer to, say, the Association than Pink Floyd. In the process, the lads have made their most hook-laden and, yes, accessible album to date, full of infectious melodies and indelible riffs. Some champions of the band's early albums may consider this to be some kind of betrayal, but in fact it's simply part of an inevitable maturation process, and considering the results, a very welcome one indeed. And while the Coral's music will probably always have a strong connection to the past, Butterfly House turns out to be the band's most contemporary-sounding album to date, depending as it does on timeless pop values more than psychedelic spelunking.

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