The Coral Sea

Volcano and Heart

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Somebody must have done something pretty awful to the Coral Sea's Rey Villalobos to warrant being targeted by an entire record of scorn, heartache, and self-loathing. The aptly titled Volcano and Heart begs for multiple uses of the word "explode," as it unfolds around ten tales of post-breakup misery, forced acceptance, and doomed flirtation that arrive filtered through the neo-psychedelic cheesecloth of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles, Mercury Rev, and Teenage Fanclub. Opening track "Look at Her Face," with its masterful use of Victorian-style strings, soulful and persistent percussion, and shimmering guitars, sets an impossibly high bar for the rest of the album. It's the perfect leadoff track to build off of, but the band seems to be working backwards, as what follows grows distressingly more and more maudlin with each and every song until the entire world has been reduced to a permanent state of midtempo. That's too bad, because there's a great record in here somewhere, as Villalobos' warbled but sweet tenor gives off notes of Television's Tom Verlaine and the arrangements and performances from both the band and string players are top-notch, especially on "In Between the Days" and "Ancient Modern People," but the whole affair is set far too deep in molasses, both emotionally and sonically, to ever rise above the tree line.

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