James Skelly & The Intenders - Love Undercover

Coral frontman’s underwhelming side project

Youth was always a factor
when it came to James
Skelly’s group The Coral.
Their sound veered between
genres and eras more in line
with a group of 50-
somethings with huge
collections; yet these were
young men, singer James
Skelly just 21 when their
debut EP came out in 2001.
The guys sure had “chops”.

You’d expect this
playfulness to surface on his
first album with The Intenders
but, sadly, it’s absent. Here
are 11 variations on heartache
and loss, played out in such
a lumpen, working men’s club
fashion that after about five
listens you’re still none-the-wiser
as to which song’s
which. Skelly’s certainly
a craftsman, but his changes,
middle-eights and – especially
– the benign lyrics are so
middle-of-the-road they make
The Coral feel like a distant
memory: pioneers from over
40 years ago, not three.

When the tempo slows, and
some slight touch of oddness
or intrigue returns, as on I’m
A Man or What A Day, Love
Undercover is mildly diverting.
At best, however, this is music made purely for the sake of it:
an uninspiring audio fluff.
Cruel, after having previously
reached such satisfying
heights.  

2 stars 2 stars

Skeleton Key/Cooking Vinyl | COOKCD 589

Reviewed by Jake Kennedy
<< Back to Issue 415