Review Summary: Despite its ragged origins, the Coral doesn't overthink this one and ends up hitting it right on the head. Very moody, dark, and best of all, unique.
In spite of its origin as an album of filler - studio creations cobbled together on the spot between albums - the Coral's 2004 rag-and-bone set is probably the album of theirs I have spent the most time with. Without the constraints of sounding commercial or poppy, the coral turned out a set that was remarkably, invitingly dark and lonely. Most of the best songs are alienating in their weirdness, like the eerie "Song of the Corn" or the echoing, shadowy funk of "Grey Harpoon." The latter song pleads "Please don't let the light through my window / Keep the curtain shut, it brings me good luck." "Keep Me Company" is one that drags you over the coals, with its plodding pace and quivering vocal. There's such a sweet contrast between the defeated verse and the hopeful chorus: "But you could keep me company / Like an old memory..."
Elsewhere, the band cuts loose on a few speedy jams, like "I Forgot My Name," "Auntie's Operation" or "Migraine," where they sound ragged and ready to collapse. The opening tracks, "Precious Eyes" and "Venom Cable" are the slickest, most "complete" or conventionally good, and even they're pretty odd. And the album ends with what sounds like an old Victrola recording from the interwar years, "Lover's Paradise," painting an almost psychedelic ideal to leave off with.
This is a brooding, sullen, not-very-inviting album. It's not the first call when you want great songcraft or impressive musicianship, but for mood it almost can't be beat. I love to walk around listening to this album on rainy nights, because this album is very much what loneliness sounds like to me. And that's what music ultimately should be, an attempt to evoke moods and feelings and memories, through all the means available. This album wasn't intended to be much, but probably because of that it succeeds in offering a lot to anyone who's ready to put up with some weirdness.