The Coral: always getting proggier

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Nick Power contemplates time. “We’ve gone up to four, four and a half minutes, which is like prog for us,” says The Coral’s Nick Power ahead of the release of new album Distance Inbetween, the first after a five year hiatus. Speaking to me from home in Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula, The Coral’s keys-player muses on the idea of timing from two perspectives on the new record – for this will mark the quintet’s eighth studio album – as well as Power’s intrigue in each individual track being longer than ever before. “To do a four and a half minute song is quite unbelievable for us.”

It is this balancing act between pop and tame psychedelia that makes The Coral. Renowned early single ‘Dreaming of You’ is a mix of woozy psych groove moulded to a tight pop tune, much like 2005 hit ‘In the Morning’, which inhabits, too, a vocal familiarity ahead of disjointed guitar. Power explains this marriage of pop and psych simply: “We just try out our maddest ideas and turn them into a three minute little crafted song”. In an age where internet-friendly attention spans are short and listening options are endless, perhaps it is for the best that The Coral have more or less maintained this temporal sensitivity.

Looking back on how the industry has changed since The Coral formed in 1996, Power grows bold in his speech for the first time. He describes this shift to the age of the internet vividly. “It did completely turn on its head, this ‘industry’. It’s no exaggeration – there was two or three years, I think, when people were sort of just wandering round going ‘what the fuck do we do? How do we … What is this business anymore?’”

But this technological upheaval was liberating for a band like The Coral. Power speaks faster as he expresses the sheer excitement this freedom brought. The independent thrill of the internet meant the band could move away from a major label, where they had had to “fight to do our own videos and artwork”, and finally get the chance to be in charge of their whole artistic output. “Now we get to do more stuff that we always wanted to do. We always wanted to put records out all the time and just be the master of our own world.” The Coral haven’t quite been putting out records “all the time” – a five year hiatus followed 2010’s Butterfly House and former The Zutons’ Paul Molloy now joins them on guitar – but surely this opportunity to break and do their own thing is an even larger part of this free- dom than Power could iterate. I ask what the band was up to during this time, and what strikes me about Power’s reply is the broad, open-minded range of the members’ artistic pursuits: “Ian [Sully] has always drawn and painted comics. Paul [Duff y] did some soundtracks. I released some books. This album is a kind of weird marriage of all those things.”

Whether the casual listener hears these intelligent cross-media references in the woozy guitar of new singles ‘Miss Fortune’ and ‘Chasing the Tail of a Dream’ is another matter. Power talks too of writer Richard Yates, film maker David Lynch and photographer Gregory Crewson, embroidering the ideas of these creatives together to form his own definition of psychedelia: “It’ll be like a nondescript mundane event or relationship – a description of that. But it’ll be so heavy in the person’s mind that it’s apocalyptic. And it’s the juxtaposition of the two things. And that’s a kind of psychedelia in a way.”

If what Power says is true, fans awaiting the ten-date UK tour will not be disappointed. The desperation of such a long wait this time around gives Power a stark sincerity as he says “I don’t think we’ve played like this live for about ten years.

It’s basically the hungriest we’ve ever sounded: we want to make these shows sound loose and angry.”

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