Home Read Albums Of The Week: The Coral | Sea Of Mirrors + Holy...

Albums Of The Week: The Coral | Sea Of Mirrors + Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show

The British indie vets go west — and go the extra mile — with a pair of new albums.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Sea Of Mirrors is The Coral in full conceptual mondo-movie mode. Combining their love of ’60s and ’70s Western cinema, baroque pop, Love, Scott Walker, Sergio Leone, Lee Hazelwood and Ennio Morricone, it features string arrangements by The High LlamasSean O’Hagan and a cameo from Cillian Murphy. It is the natural, sprawling successor to 2021’s Coral Island and you will hear nothing like it in 2023.

Following their acclaimed album Coral Island, the band felt inspired to create material for two more albums. Amidst that songwriting scirroco, a script written by keyboard player Nick Power and a vintage cinema foyer poster artwork created by drummer Ian Skelly confirmed Sea Of Mirrors’ vivid concept — and provided a blueprint for The Coral to move beyond all expectations once again. “Once the album concept was clear, this was us imagining the theme tune for an Italian western directed by Fellini with a Richard Yates-written script,” explains James Skelly. “It’s us asking ourselves: What would have happened if Lee Hazlewood had produced a Gene Pitney song written by Townes Van Zandt?”

Bridging Coral Island and Sea Of Mirrors, a second album titled Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show has also been released. With the full tracklisting limited to physical formats only, the album brings the Skellys’ grandad (aka The Great Muriarty) back into the fold for the narrated postscript to one of The Coral’s most successful albums to date.

Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show is the show that brings you sounds from the other side all through the night. They”ll be playing murder ballads and death ditties, love songs and eulogies, songs about drifters, grifters, hobos and killers… If Coral Island was a box-office hit, then Holy Joe’s Coral Island Medicine Show is it’s low-budget little brother, written in a year and stitched together in less — think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ll or Police Academy: Mission To Moscow, but without the plane fare to Russia. This is a sequel to rival the most shameless of cash-ins.

It features a ramshackle cast: Along with the usual suspects and The Great Moriarty makes a return, there’s actor and friend-of-the-band John Simm, who recites wanderlust eulogy Drifter’s Prayer. Glaswegian singer Rianne Downey is involved in a murderous duet. An unnamed pedal-steel player from the back of beyond plays a funeral score over Hotel.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an act of self-sabotage or half-arsed in any way;
more a deliberate attempt to make an art form out of the forgotten followup. Who else but The Coral are going to fill this important cultural sinkhole?

Framed inside a midnight radio show beaming out from a Michelin blimp that hovers somewhere past the piers of Coral Island, Holy Joe… is a love letter to the tradition of the death disc and murder ballad, from Stack-o-Lee to Skeleton Key and everything between. Stay up late. Tune in. If you do, who knows? You might end up loving it more than the original.”


Previous articleStephen Marley, Bob Weir & Jack Johnson Stroll Winding Roads
Next articleAlbums Of The Week: Kristin Hersh | Clear Pond Road