Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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THE CORAL
Columbia

The Coral are six young geezers from suburban Liverpool who have captured the eager hearts of Britain's musical cognoscenti. Their selling point is an eclecticism that evades Oasis-style overkill with compact songs that hop all over the place--horn fills and Nuggets riffs, triangle and accordion, playful echo and stereo effects, varied harmonies that distract from the absence of a distinctive lead voice, rhythm shifts (natch), and a song called "Skeleton Key" that could literally have been inspired by Beefheartian New York undergrounders Skeleton Key. The band has a loosely Eastern European aura that recalls not Beatles-Floyd studio psychedelica but the Bay Area's famously eclectic Kaleidoscope, who imported the oud to rock with no discernible effect. Granted, the Coral's commercial grounding is much more solid, as on the barely bent pop songs "Dreaming of You" and "Waiting for the Heartaches." Whether it can be imported to the U.S. is another question.

Rolling Stone, Mar. 20, 2003