With its follow-up effort, Magic & Medicine, the band, led by promising songwriter and singer James Skelly, shows signs of mellowing and maturing into something that can be progressive and nostalgic all at once. This time around, the group keeps the over-the-top gestures to the beginning (the absurd church-organ, lost-on-acid romp "In the Forest") and to the end ("Confessions of A.D.D.D.," which ends with a winding, Buffalo Springfield-derived solo). In between, while the production tricks with reverb and retro sound remain, the songs themselves mostly are efficient, confident, subtle and gentle. They owe more to the pop legacy of the Byrds and early Neil Diamond than anything; of all the quirky developments of that era, those are the most lasting, translating to Fleetwood Mac, R.E.M., Pavement and beyond. Consequently, "Don't Think You're the First," "Bill McCai" and "Pass It On" may prove to be some of the year's most whimsical and joyous recordings.
That's the thing with smart-boy gimmicks -- occasionally, the boys learn to extend beyond their muse and develop something truly time-honored and universal. The Coral may very well become huge in short order.