Let’s get it out of the way: The Coronas have probably one of the most unfortunate names to be promoting right now. Thankfully, however, their sixth album, True Love Waits, is more akin to the brand of beer: lighthearted, easily likeable, but maybe in need of a slice of lime.
The metaphorical slice of lime in question would be a slice of more energy. The title track is especially lacking – the backing acoustics bring to mind the late 2000s indie-pop band The Summer Set, and the atmospheric crescendo more Ultraviolet by The Stiff Dylans with none of its swagger. It’s trite, and the sound seems overdone, but it’s not necessarily a bad song – there’s a good rhythm to be heard, the lyrics are dreamily positive, and the synth is bright – it just fails to have that something more that was hinted at with the excellent choice of promotional singles.
Brave also falls prey to this comparison. Not having the pop-punk vibe that makes Find The Water so charming, nor the silky atmosphere that Lost In The Thick Of It with British singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin exudes in waves, Brave relies too heavily on singer Danny O’Reilly’s (admittedly charming) vocals, and as a result becomes almost tedious.
Lost In The Thick Of It, however, pulls a full 180, showing just why The Coronas have Ireland’s heart in the palm of their hands. With an enthusiastic tempo that swells from verse to chorus, Aplin’s gossamer voice alongside O’Reilly’s more cavernous vocals is blissfully harmonic, the lyrics reflective and heartfelt; this is a track that would be as beautiful stripped bare as it is in its studio format. When The Coronas’ lead guitarist and founding member, Dave McPhillips, left the band in 2019, the group considered dropping guitar completely and making mellower music – Lost In The Thick Of It almost makes you wish they had.
Find The Water however, has you screaming the opposite. The lead single definitely brings the zest The Coronas needed on their less memorable tracks – it has a gritty atmosphere reminiscent of The National, and the hook is among the catchiest the band has ever produced. O’Reilly’s vocals are almost unrecognisable, as he sings a paean to self-betterment that, combined with the stylishly indie-rock layered arrangement, make this track a highlight for The Coronas’ discography.
The euphoric Heat Of The Moment is equally as effusive – a contemporary-pop song that soars with hopeful lyrics; this track builds into a stratospheric chorus shimmering with passionate drums, and lush, lilting vocals. It is a hot summer’s evening, choosing to be present in the moment; it has a nostalgic, but infectious, joy. Elsewhere on the album, I Think We Jinxed It moves like moonlight on water, with O’Reilly’s vocals despondent as he recounts a broken relationship that needs “something to cling to”, whilst Light Me Up features co-writer Cian MacSweeny on backing vocals, building ambience to an almost anthemic scale. Light Me Up is animated and finishes on a gospel note – perfect for creating a festival atmosphere when festivals feel like a distant memory.
Ultimately, this album feels like the start of something good, and above all else you certainly realise The Coronas will never begrudge you a passionate instrumental. It’s clear this band is starting a new chapter, they are half retrospective and half ready to conquer the world; it seems like the best is yet to come.