Invoking both arcane British naval folklore that’s infinitely less interesting than the literary allusions made by The Decemberists or The Fiery Furnaces and a predilection toward ‘60s pop stylings that falls somewhere on the Austin Powers side of “reverential,” The Coral’s third full-length album, The Invisible Invasion, is a pleasant enough album that ultimately does nothing to distinguish itself from the efforts of countless other bands. References to “conspiracy in the corridors” on “Cripples Crown” and the parallel between surrealism and modern politics on “Arabian Sand,” which was inspired by a Salvadore Dali painting and is the only indisputably great song on the album, inscribe The Invisible Invasion with enough of a paranoid streak to pass for thematic coherence, but, like on Coldplay’s X&Y, coherence doesn’t automatically mean depth. Which might be a more readily forgivable offense if The Coral, but for the flat-out awful vocals from frontman James Skelly, weren’t so aggressively anonymous a band, suggesting that The Invisible Invasion could have been recorded by just about anyone. They sound like Interpol, but without the dire sense of self-importance. Like a less TRL-polished version of The Killers. Like The Libertines, without the hoyay or the heroin. Like The Strokes, minus the independent wealth. Like Franz Ferdinand without a good rhythm section, which is to say like Bloc Party. Like Bloc Party without clearly articulated political views. Like The Bravery, but without a ridiculous feud with members of another soundalike band. Like The Hives, but not so heavy on the treble. And so on indefinitely, even before incorporating the most obvious stylistic influences like Echo & The Bunnymen. All of which means that The Invisible Invasion isn’t necessarily a bad record, it’s just nearly critic-proof, providing all of the evidence for whether or not any given listener will like it entirely by its many points of direct comparison.
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