Review: The Coral – Distance Inbetween – Nostalgic songwriting at its finest

Mandi Goodier

Indie-rock legends The Coral return with Distance Inbetween, a joyful nod to 60s psychedelia, with all the songwriting skill that one expects based on the group's track record. 

The Coral Distance Inbetween 3 and a half stars

The Coral: Distance Inbetween

three and a half stars

The Coral first came to attention during the 2000's guitar group revival, although they never made it as big as some of their contemporaries (The Kings of Leon, Pete Doherty), many music aficionados considered The Coral to be the first English band of the revival. After a five-year hiatus, the Liverpool lads return with their eighth studio album Distance Inbetween.

There’s a certain sense of nostalgia that comes from listening to Distance Inbetween. Between the psychedelic melodies and backwards guitar riffs of 'Chasing the Tail of the Dream', and the seductive harmonies and gentle folk acoustics of 'Beyond the Sun', it's an album that spans the more, shall we say, tasteful side of classic rock.

Centred around a strong rhythm section, each song is given huge amounts of space to breathe—a treatment that doesn't often lend itself to contemporary music, emphasising the nostalgic feel which makes it all the more precious. Further to this, each song deserves its place on this album, there is absolutely no filler.

Despite well-paced guitar breaks, Distance Inbetween is a showcase for songwriting with a real focus on storytelling—which is where lyricist James Skelly really excels. It's a skill that has continued to set him apart from his contemporaries.

Skelly's words have the ability to transport you to new dimensions packed with strawberry field scenery, super-humans and ethereal women. It’s unsurprising then to hear that the band was hugely influenced by the non-musical likes of Alan Moore, the graphic novelist who wrote The Watchmen, and Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road.

Obvious song-smith comparisons are grounded in their Merseyside heritage—The Beatles and those that came in their wake. All those North-West revivalists, from The Stone Roses, to Richard Ashcroft, to The Zutons.

The Coral have managed to maintain their Merseybeat beginnings but have grown a lush thickness of influence from krautrock ('Miss Fortune') and blues. It all weaves into this subtle tapestry to create a beautiful collection of songs. 

Although it isn't a huge departure for the band, and doesn't feel super contemporary, Distance Inbetween is bound to be a crowd-pleaser for both fans and new listeners. The Coral are nothing if not consistently good at writing proper songs.

Key tracks: White Bird, Beyond the Sun, She Runs the River

You may also like: Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, The Byrds