Coughing engines, hot coals, mid-air explosions and all the other alive, inanimate happenings that press into existence…plus a buttload of tambourine (Bob Mould: “When in doubt, tambourine!”)
After the frenetic intro, the bass becomes the star of the show, settling the song into its long-winded pocket. “Coals” demanded an extremely standard treatment: build the verses at the midway point, chorus must be anthemic (of all things) and come at the usual time (of all things), beefed up by creepy old distorted bass organ and then, of course, allow a French film score from the sixties to guest star on the bridge, for some reason.
My favorite sound in the song, though, is the diminutive lead guitar. Crunchy yet sinewy, murmuring not unpleasantly throughout, then bursting into tiny song at the end…more a ramble than a rant, a sputtering little engine that could.
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