The Coral Sea

  • Record Label: Pask
  • Release Date: Jul 8, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Poetry and music are so closely aligned anyway that at their best, they become one. This is a stunning, awe-inspiring, love-soaked example.
  2. It's a moving work, intensified by Shields' improvisational guitar and the way Smith's voice makes Mapplethorpe's particular story universal.
  3. As for The Coral Sea, it’s a magnificent tribute and a monumental accomplishment in the career of one of America’s truly outstanding artists.
  4. It seems Smith and Shields simply both did what they are best at, and in the process uncovered some common ground that few thought existed. Fortunately, the results are riveting.
  5. 80
    Here, she's captured twice in concert feverishly reading her phantasmagoric memorial to friend and artist Robert Mapplethorpe with the accompaniment of fellow savant Kevin Shields, the reclusive My Bloody Valentine leader who matches the ebb and flow of her morphing prose with thunderstorms of guitar sustain that weep and roar empathetically.
  6. Her words have the fire and focus of her greatest work as she struggles with the bitter truth that such a breathtaking talent could be so cruelly extinguished. Kevin Shields has recently been boosting demand for earplugs with his My Bloody Valentine live shows, but here he is perfectly restrained, supplying sounds and textures to a gripping, if demanding, two-hour listen.
  7. Like all of her wordplay--as written, sometimes spontaneously spoken, and occasionally sung--it fits.
  8. Ultimately this is very hard to judge as pop music. Judged as art, however, it's sensual, insidious, cathartic, and quite beautiful.
  9. Uncut
    It's a stunning performance, drawing fire from Smith's stentorian performance, providing the ballast for the voyage of her Rimbaudian drunken boat. [Aug 2008, p.104]
  10. A year later Mr. Shields turned The Coral Sea into an evolving, reverberating, nearly unbroken wash of sound, as boundless and mutable as the ocean itself.
  11. The final rush commingles anguish and ecstasy quite powerfully, glorying in the significance Mapplethorpe held for Smith and resonating for anyone who has lost someone and is willing to be taken to the water.
  12. Under The Radar
    Smith's love for the sensuousness of language and her possessed recitation coupled with Shields' auractic guitar scrawls succeed in ways unimaginable. [Fall 2008, p.84]
  13. Filter
    Shield's stark and shimmering shoegaze guitars expand and contract like colossal organs under Smith's chameleonic spoken word. [Summer 2008, p.97]
  14. The first disc, a June 2005 concert at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, starts out lifeless, with little variety in Smith's voice or Shields' metronomic guitar. Halfway through the hour-long performance, things pick up, as Smith yells fervent imperatives over shimmering waves from Shields' amp.
  15. Mojo
    Away from the atmosphere and visuals of live performance, over an hour of such dense and highly personal account of pain and beauty on the threshold of death is particularly demanding; a pity it's not available on DVD. [Aug 2008, p.103]
  16. Q Magazine
    A draining, rewarding journey. [Aug 2008, p.143]

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