Having been inactive as a group for the past two and a bit years The Coral have now finally got round to having The Curse Of Love mastered & made fit for release. Recorded back in 2006, upon Bill Ryder-Jones' initial exit from the line-up it was subsequently shelved when he returned to the fold for a bit. Sound-wise then it's obviously going to be more in the vein of The Invisible Invasion / Roots & Echoes than the lusher sound produced on 2010's Butterfly House.
The trademark melancholic-yet-whimsical sound of the band's initial years is therefore here in spades, possibly augmented by the loss at the time of Ryder-Jones. Leading off with the sparse 'The Curse Of Love (Part 1)' there's a conceptual feel to the whole enterprise with wintry and dark imagery being conjured up on song after song - hang men & gallows, weeping meadows, old women sat with their cats by the fire and that confounded curse of love.
Live these songs will be best served by an intimate venue although there's a burst of life mid-way through 'You Closed The Door' as the guitar cuts loose. There's never any feeling of bitterness in the work but that song title's yet another thing to get you thinking that at the time of recording things were a bit moody.
For 'View From The Mirror' to now be finally available for wide consumption, the album's existence is utterly justified. One of the most atmospheric songs the band have ever done there's a distinct feeling of hairs standing up on the back of your neck each time you play it. Close on its heels 'The Watcher In The Distance' ups the album's tempo with an almost swing jazz time signature married to some nicely psychedelic effects and guitar work, which could easily have lasted another minute or so.
Overall then this is a welcome release after its enforced hibernation (and one which also raises the possibility of the band's similarly on-hold recordings from 2012 finally seeing the light of day) and, whilst all members seem content working on other projects, a tour on the back of it would be equally welcome.