The few people I know to have listened to The Coral's debut album had very few positive things to say about this band. Their debut album received average reviews from critics at best and barely made a blip on the North American radar. It's safe to say my expectations were not set very high for Magic and Medicine.
But The Coral definitely have one thing going for them, they are like The Beatles--geographically speaking that is.
Perhaps their location in one of England's musical Meccas, Liverpool, is the reason for their hodge-podge of influences apparent on this album. Without sounding exactly like anyone in particular, The Coral drop hints of numerous bands on Magic and Medicine: The Beatles, The Kinks, early Van Morrison, John Mayall, even the extensive use of organs gives the album a Doors feel at times.
With an energized sound and some well-crafted lyrics, there are a couple of gems on this album. "Don't Think You're the First" is a sardonic love song preceding a McCartney-esque love ballad called "Liezah," both of which are highlights. Another choice track is "Bill McCai," the story of a middle-age crisis ended in hanging, reminiscent of the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem "Richard Cory".
Not quite immaculate but far from mediocre, Magic and Medicine is a good listen.