Release Date: Nov 6, 2015
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Since leaving The Coral in 2008, Bill Ryder-Jones has blossomed. With the ambitious, orchestral If… in 2011 and 2013’s excellent A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, he has proved himself to be not only one of the UK’s most inventive, technically capable songwriters, but also one of its most personal. On A Bad Wind… particularly (If… being an instrumental adaptation of Italo Calvino’s novel If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler), Ryder-Jones invited the listener into a deeply honest, confessional space created by his whispered vocal and yearning lyricism.
Since leaving The Coral in 2008, Bill Ryder-Jones has kept himself busy. As well as four film scores and collaborations with Arctic Monkeys, Graham Coxon and Paloma Faith, this is his third solo album. Eschewing the lush orchestration of his debut, this latest offering was recorded in Ryder-Jones’ old bedroom in his mother’s Wirral home. “I make music in a bedroom for people to listen in their bedrooms,” he claims.
At only 32, Bill Ryder-Jones was already midway into the second and third phases of an impressive career. A Brit-pop guitar prodigy, he joined Merseyside jangle pop heroes the Coral when he was just 13 and was an integral part of their sound until increasing mental health issues forced him to leave the band for good in 2008. His first post-Coral endeavor ended up being a series of film scores for several short films.
Not one to stand still, former Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones has adopted a far more muscular sound on his third solo album. His vocals are still relatively hushed, but where once the backing was equally subdued, now the likes of Two to Birkenhead and Satellites are unapologetically rock, albeit of the skew-whiff type at which Pavement once excelled. The more introspective moments (Wild Roses, Seabirds) are equally strong.
Following his departure from Liverpool’s The Coral in 2008, guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones‘ solo career so far has been one of contrasts. Whereas his previous band peddled a particular brand of perky, ’60s inflected indie – part Captain Beefheart, part Freddie And The Dreamers – with steadily diminishing returns, Ryder-Jones’ first full-length step after leaving, five albums into their career, was a sharp left turn. If… (2011), a mostly instrumental ‘soundtrack’ to Italo Calvino’s bewildering literary puzzle-box If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller, was a deftly scored blend of delicate piano motifs – some of the recording taking place in his mother’s house in West Kirby – and grand, assured arrangements for the Liverpool Philharmonic.
It’s almost 20 years since Bill Ryder-Jones joined The Coral, back when John Major was still in Downing Street, Britpop was at its apogee and the guitarist himself was only 13 years old. As the youngest member of the group, Ryder-Jones’ obvious ability – just listen to his nuanced, sure-handed playing on those first two albums – marked him out as something of a prodigy. But his post-Coral trajectory (which includes playing on and touring Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’) has been closer to that of a late, if not outright laggard, bloomer.
One of the most talented, versatile—and arguably underrated—British bands of the last 15 years are the Coral. On an “indefinite break” since 2012, their six studio albums (plus 2014’s psych-folk The Curse of Love, actually an album recorded in 2006 that the band had decided to shelve) evidenced an ability to mix up folk, psychedelia and roots but retain a groove all of their own. Above all, the Coral had clearly inherited that north-west England/Liverpool gene, possessed by bands from the Beatles to honorary Scousers Teardrop Explodes to the La’s, that of producing sublime pop music with a twist.