Kodaline – “Coming up for Air” 7/10.
Kodaline confuse me. That being said, I can be easily confused.
On first hearing “All I want”, I thought I was listening to a previously unreleased Coldplay track; on hearing the opening guitar chords of “Brand New Day” I auto-assumed that I was listening to Snow Patrol. That was 2013 – this is now.
Let’s presume Kodaline are fans of the afore-mentioned CP and SP: isn’t it therefore understandable that their music would be in some way influenced by their sounds? Unlike some, I’m happy to park that there!!
“Coming up for Air” is Kodaline’s second album from which the hit single “Honest” was released earlier this month, entering both UK and Irish singles charts in the Top 20. Produced by Garrett “Jacknife” Lee (The Cars, REM, Snow Patrol (them again!), U2 – get the picture?) it is sonically big: bombastic stadium sound versus rock anthem; ballads with big choruses versus soft piano-led emos.
As THE second album, “Coming up for Air”is a more mature offering, which opens with the afore-mentioned pulsing “Honest” oozing with the confidence that comes from experience, before slowing into it’s first, slightly saccharine, love song, “The One”, which for me, is one of the weaker tracks on here.
“Autopilot” however, has an interesting mellow quasi-Indian opening riff. The slow pace unfolds into a melodic chant layered over some soft soothing harmonies which soon pick up pace, and grow into the full “gospel-monty” backed up with strong methodical percussion. It’s “kinda-Koda” predictable but it’s highly likeable and definitely a grower.
“Human Again” is an upper; a gritty rock-pop song, plenty of whining, sliding guitar grinding and squealing synths. “Unclear” brings us back down with it’s lullabyesque sensibilities. Similarly, “Better” is gentle acoustic guitar driven song in the ahem, Chris Martin sense.
Compare and contrast.
“Play the Game” is all about 80’s rock: first it gave me the guitar n snare beat of Joan Jett’s “I love Rock n Roll” and then it unleashed Jon Bon Jovi with his own big haired big voiced backing choir! And I loved it.
“Lost” is a rather lovely echoey electro-pop track, the vocal of which has a hint of a tint of Thom Yorke a la “No Surprises” – give them both a listen!! It’s one of the strongest tracks on the album. Unfortunately, the strength of this track greatly overshadows the next in list, more run of the mill “Ready”, a fairly standard pop tune – plenty of piano pumping and strumming strings.
“Love Will Set you Free” is another slow-paced love song in the mould of Kodaline 1.0 – very “High Hopes” in tone and vocal.
Without doubt the most “sonically beautiful” song on the album is the emotionally charged “Everything Works Out in the End” – soulful vocals play over light piano chords and flowing strings. This is one of those light the lighter/phone, wavey hands at the festival feel-good songs, that puts Kodaline up there with the best of their peers in this genre.
“Coming up for Air” isn’t faultless, but it’s a confident, strong production, in which the band have upped their game, and into which they have tried to incorporate the funk of a hugely talented and experienced producer, with the tricks they themselves have picked up along the way.
As usual, I have included vids from YouTube for you to sample, but, as I always say, if you enjoy, please support music by downloading from iTunes or buying the real deal in your local record shop.
“Coming up for Air” Tracklist
|10.||“Everything Works Out in the End”||3:37|
|11.||“Play The Game”||3:54|
|12.||“Love Will Set You Free”||4:20|
|13.||“Caught In The Middle”||4:36|