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Kodaline - Coming Up For Air (Review)

Kodaline, Coming Up For Air

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THERE are several times when listening to Kodaline’s latest album, Coming Up For Air, that you could be forgiven for thinking you’re tuned into a Coldplay album, or even Maroon 5. Heck, there’s even a touch of the boy band about certain moments.

But it’s a formula that has served this Dublin quartet well since the release of their 2013 debut, In A Perfect World, which started to win them a burgeoning fanbase. That is to say, slow-build, epic songwriting that soar during the chorus and err towards the heartfelt and swoonful.

The songs are also constructed in such a fashion that big stadiums surely beckon to get the most out of them.

The big difference this time is that they have turned to producers such as Jacknife Lee (Snow Patrol, R.E.M), Jim Eliot (Ellie Goulding) and A Perfect World producer Steve Harris to add extra sheen. The results could possibly deliver them their biggest LP to date.

And to be fair, it’s an easy listen that gives rise to several decent tracks. There’s nothing to really blow you away. But it’s solid rock-pop that feels tailor-made for the mainstream to embrace.

Evidence of this was found on first single Honest, which featured a stadium sized chorus (the type of which Coldplay would be proud), as well as that mix of sweeping synths and falsetto vocals.

Autopilot repeats the trick to equally, if not more crowd-pleasing effect, even going so far as to drop in a chorus that the likes of One Direction might like.

But there’s a greater sense of adventure and purpose about the far edgier electro-rocker Human Again, which if anything takes its cues from U2 in places, albeit with softer vocals. The guitars, though, lend a jagged edge that almost elevates the track to thrilling.

Unclear, conversely, is a slow-builder that is pure Chris Martin, right down to the vocals. But, like the tracks that precede it, it’s engaging enough to be enjoyable.

And that just about sums up the album as a whole: enjoyably well crafted so to have you nodding along in appreciation in spite of yourself.

Hence, while the odd moment such as Lost underwhelms, despite vocally aspiring towards Muse at times, other tracks such as Ready (full of headrush energy and a catchy chorus) or Better, with its likeable mix of acoustic guitars and strings, provide genuine crowd-pleasing moments that look set to enhance and even boost their popularity.

And two other tracks to look out for are the piano-soaked Everything Works Out in the End, a soundtrack moment if ever there was one courtesy of its sense of yearning, melancholy undertow and cinematic atmospherics, and the epic slow-build finale of Love Will Set You Free, which is as manipulative and contrived as anything, yet somehow rousing too.

Kodaline won’t win any awards for originality but Coming Up For Air remains a decent album within the parameters that it is working within. Sometimes, you just have to kick back and enjoy something for what it is.

Download picks: Autopilot, Human Again, Ready, Better, Everything Works Out in the End

Track listing:

  1. Honest
  2. The One
  3. Autopilot
  4. Human Again
  5. Unclear
  6. Coming Alive
  7. Lost
  8. Ready
  9. Better
  10. Everything Works Out in the End
  11. Play the Game
  12. Love Will Set You Free