Even if you are at best faintly aware of The Coronas and their huge (overwhelmingly female) fanbase, chances are you will be familiar with the drama overshadowing the Dubliners’ fourth album. Two year ago frontman Danny O’Reilly parted from long-term girlfriend, TV presenter Laura Whitmore. Reeling from the split, he poured his pain into the group’s major label debut, resulting in a break-up record spilling over with shock and heartache.
That isn’t to say The Long Way is a depressive listen. Allied to O’Reilly’s ‘woe-is-me-lyrics’ is a rollocking pop-rock template, with songs that practically vault from the speakers, so super-shiny is the production. This is a kitchen-sink affair, full of full-fat riffs and soaring vocals.
Throughout, it’s the band’s tremendous ambition that really resonates. London-based since 2012 and signed to Island Records, in interviews the group have made little secret of their determination to break the UK. That hunger is writ large on songs such as ‘All The Others’ and ‘If I Gave Myself To Someone Else’, O’Reilly’s husky croon juxtaposed with Snow Patrol-esque guitars and big booming choruses.
Without question, their already huge Irish following will adore ever super-sized chorus and shiny solo. Whether The Long Way will bring them the international success they so obviously crave is, however, a knottier issue.
Sounding like a mash-up of Coldplay and Snow Patrol won’t do The Coronas any harm – and yet, competing for airplay with more sophisticated acts such as Bombay Bicycle Club, you wonder whether the Dubliners may not come across as rather unimaginative and two dimensional.The Long Way is the group’s best album – but it still sounds like a Coronas record and, in the end, that may be its downfall.
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