The Coral’s release of The Curse of Love would appear to mark their 7th studio album, following a 4 year-gap since Butterfly House in 2010. Strangely, however, The Curse of Love is an album that contains 12 previously unreleased tracks that were actually recorded between 2005 and 2007, when the band – who have been absent for a while – were at their peak. Frontman James Skelly has made is clear that The Curse of Love is “not a new album”- it is, in fact, an album that is 8 years old.
The England formed five-piece are most well-known for songs such as ‘In the Morning’, and ‘Dreaming of You’- but this album seems to pose a refreshing distinction from their earlier work.
The title tracks, ‘The Curse of Love (Part 1)’ and ‘(Part 2)’ bookend the album. ‘Part 1’ introduces a compilation of instruments and repetitive string motifs, combined with the sombre tone of James Skelly’s voice to form a track that is strangely reminiscent of an eerie carnival song, such as you might expect from American Horrow Story – Freakshow. ‘The Curse of Love (Part 2)’ seems to provide an antithesis of sorts to the first part, using the same format and lyrics of the original track, but lifting it to allow for a more upbeat conclusion to the album.
The Curse of Love takes you on a journey across a spectrum of moods, and genres. With the fourth track ‘Second Self’ being entirely instrumental, it allows listeners to focus on the workings behind the rest of the album. It presents the repetitive, upbeat motifs that are constant throughout, as well as allowing a break from Skelly’s sometimes dulcet tone of voice. ‘Gently’ is a beautiful combination of pretty piano motifs and vocals, and provides a track that fits into the psychedelic genre that The Coral are recognised for. This style is not a far cry from the psychedelic progressive music associated with Pink Floyd, particularly prevalent on albums such as 1971’s Relics.
A song that stands out against the more sombre tone of the majority of the album is ‘The Golden Bough’, which follows ‘Willow Song’. It is a more upbeat track that gives us a welcome break from the eeriness of the majority of The Curse of Love, with even the low tone of Skelly’s voice seeming to pick up. It also, at times, provides something that is a little closer to the latter end of their spectrum between psychedelic and rock.
It is hard to consider The Curse of Love as a new album, outside of the knowledge that contextually, it would actually mark the band’s 5th album, as opposed to their 7th. The album could be seen as a prefiguration to the similar styles that are present on the albums that technically follow it, Roots and Echoes and Butterfly House. That aside, the album itself is brilliantly constructed and neatly bookended by the title track of The Crown of Love, and does function as an album that exemplifies the style most associated with The Coral.
The Curse of Love is out now via Skeleton Key Records.