Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Young Dublin quartet Kodaline hit commercial paydirt with their 2013 debut, In a Perfect World, and haven’t changed a winning formula. Their songs are still almost mathematically placed between Coldplay and Snow Patrol, with a smidgeon of U2 and the sort of big choruses and bells-and-whistles-and-choirboys production once trademarked by Westlife. If anything, Kodaline sound even bigger: vocalist Steve Garrigan sounds on the edge of a good cry, lyrical cliches strain for profundity (“You’ve gotta be tough if you wanna survive”) and producer Jacknife Lee has put them in an even larger wind tunnel than before.
Coldplay. It’s impossible to listen to Dublin quartet Kodaline without recalling Chris Martin and co. so best get it out the way immediately. Debut album In A Perfect World from 2013 introduced the highly photogenic boys as a chart-topping, ready made, highly polished act with a severe ‘young Coldplay’ likeness, guaranteed to charm impressionable female admirers from London to Timbuktu.
As the saying goes, you've got your whole life to make your first album and 18 months to make your second. Or in Kodaline's case: you can't wait to finish touring that first album so you can crank out your second. It would be fair to say that the Dublin-based quartet were looking ahead as soon as their debut LP, In a Perfect World, hit shelves in mid-2013; that record was the result of years of work, and was successful enough that they were able to enlist super-producer Jacknife Lee to help oversee its follow-up.
Acting as the Coldplay to Coldplay's U2, the Dublin quartet Kodaline specialize in the school boy sincerity of Chris Martin's crew. On their second album, Coming Up for Air, they swap the quiet adventure of Coldplay's albums with Eno for an on-the-nose mawkishness that reaches a pinnacle on "Unclear," when their anthemic chorus is underscored by a children's choir. Not everything on Coming Up for Air is slow -- "Unclear" is bookended by "Human Again" and "Lost," the two songs that have some fuzz and pulse -- but it feels as if this is as calm as a placid lake.
Kodaline make no bones about being a big-sounding band. They pen anthems for emotional souls, a call to arms for anyone experiencing heartbreak or at the very least, slight foot cramp. Where there’s a cause, there’s Kodaline, a band who put themselves on the map as an undeniably universal - if a bit wet - prospect with debut ‘In a Perfect World’.
There is at least a frankness in the way Kodaline plunder the most mawkish bits from Coldplay’s back catalogue for inspiration. Opener Honest has a verse borne windily aloft by the same “whoahs” that have been echoing around stadiums for well over a decade; Steve Garrigan’s voice strains with sincerity in perfect imitation of Chris Martin. Less forgivable, though, is the way they emulate and surpass the lyrical cliches of their source material.