Coyle Girelli: Funland
(Honey Lemon Records)
DL | CD | LP
As the pandemic raged across the globe, Coyle Girelli found the inspiration to write his second solo album Funland deep in the woods of Vermont as he was drawn towards the concept of a mythical place. The outcome proves to be a wonderful collection of rich and atmospheric soundscapes with Coyle Girelli emerging as the ultimate balladeer with a vocal style which absorbs all that is great about the likes of Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley.
Coyle Girelli is an English born multi-platinum composer, singer, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist who has finally been finding his feet as a solo artist following the release of his first solo album, Love Kills, in 2018. Previously he had fronted two alternative rock bands Your Vegas and The Chevin but has since enjoyed significant success in other fields through writing for other major artists, and also in the world of musical theatre.
Having been based in Manhattan, New York for the past decade or so, the release of his debut album brought significant critical acclaim Stateside, being described as a beautifully dark masterpiece. But not much more than one year later the world was immersed in turmoil, uncertainty and in many cases isolation which resulted in Coyle decamping much further north to the green mountain state of Vermont to get a very different perspective on life. And it was here that the green shoots of the new album started to emerge and develop almost as a form of therapy and survival through these very difficult months.
As Coyle describes, “Funland was a concept I had been kicking around before I started writing. A nightmare place of escape, debauchery, vice and pleasure. I wrote the songs while holed up in the woods in Vermont as the pandemic raged and the concept took on a whole new meaning as the New York City I was missing got entwined with this other mythical place that I had created in my mind and it became Funland”.
The album opens with a rhythmic explosion of dark and dreamy pop through the title track Funland which starts to give us an insight into Coyle’s strange and mystical fantasy world. This runs into the guitar-driven Fun which ups the tempo even further with a kind of Richard Hawley meets Ryan Adams kind of vibe and Roy Orbison deep within its roots. Do You Wanna Dance is full of longing and heartache so aptly conveyed through Coyle’s deep and velvety tones.
Coyle then slows it right down with From 7th Street With Love, a stark piano-led homage to his adopted home which was clearly written at that time when he was far away up north, reflecting on all that he had left behind in a City which he loves. Flake follows in a similar vein albeit with more acoustic and atmospheric soundscapes.
Here Comes My Baby is a haunting and melodramatic ballad which has all the hallmarks of The Big O at the very top of his game, with reverb-laden guitars and soaring vocals which draw you right into a deep sense of yearning and passion for a loved one. Coyle described it as “a turquoise-sea-green-coloured-washed-out-shoegazer feeling ode to a lover, celebrating being lost in her and how she anchors you, even in the midst of the craziness all around us”. Little doubt this song will feature in my best-of list for 2022 at the end of the year.
But it’s not all dark and dreamy as Night Time has a more disco vibe with its pulsating beat and Modern Noir has a more country feel about it. Midnight Flower then slows it right back down again with its piano-led soundtrack and its late-night mood, a mournful ballad full of yearning which showcases Coyle’s sultry and sensual tones.
When I Sleep is another song full of longing for a distant loved one with soaring chorus lines and Porno brings the album to a close with rousing orchestrations as Coyle declares “life is a show”. And who could argue with that?
Funland is an album inspired by chaos and underpinned by a deep sense of longing and there is no one better to convey this that Coyle Girelli through his deep, dark and sensual vocals. Coyle is quickly becoming the ultimate balladeer with old school reverb-laden guitar refrains dancing around gloriously uplifting and soaring melodies. Its an album full of melodramatic and grandiose soundscapes which evoke a real sense of hope, lust and love all in equal measures.
As Coyle says about his own extended period of isolation, he turned to “writing music that embraces life: the joy, the pain, the quiet and the chaos” and the sense of therapy he must have derived from writing this album is palpable both through his words and his expression. I just feel that we are the lucky ones in being able to share this whole experience with him and if you are after any form of escapism then look no further.
You can buy the album here.
All words by Ian Corbridge. You can find more of his writing at his author profile.