Kodaline – Love Like This EP review

Irish rockers Kodaline like to sing about such lofty topics as ‘Standing in the parking lot of life’. This is a band that has drawn comparisons to Coldplay and Oasis, two bands I always felt were completely overrated and indicative of all that is wrong with the music industry. So, it was with a high measure of trepidation and uncertainty that I found myself entering into this next assigned review.

Honestly, the band isn’t as bad as all that. They’re definitely much better than Oasis, and way less melodramatic and contrived than Coldplay. I’m not particularly impressed by or interested in the music these guys make, but it’s all quite harmless and fairly bland. They’re competent musicians and songwriters, but every track on the e.p. is built around recycled concepts that are so predictable that any type of tension and release so necessary to truly engaging music is neutralized due to the lack of any tension.

In many ways, the sum and substance of the band is defined by the acoustic version of ‘Love Like This’ which appears at the end of the e.p. The first track on the e.p. is the studio version of the same song, and so the acoustic version acts as a variation which bookends the e.p. The arrangement is piano and guitar, and the general atmosphere is one of introspective seriousness. Though it is generally not a bad approach to interpreting the song, there is nothing about it that makes it really stand out, and this can be relied on as a statement about the bands output in general.

Kodaline – In a Perfect World album review

There’s something to be said for an album that can move you with simplicity. Simple lyrics, simple melodies, and simple harmonies, though generally all hallmarks of boring albums played once and then forgotten, are virtues for Kodaline’s latest effort, “In a Perfect World.” Couple these simple elements with the melancholy, singer/songwriter-esque vocals of lead singer Steven Garrigan, and a few catchy melodies full of a few memorable phrases, and you’ve got an awfully good album.

As far as instruments are concerned, everything is pretty simple. “In a Perfect World” loves its lightly clinking pianos, soft drums, and guitar riffs lush enough to make bands like Coldplay, early One Republic, or The Fray proud. The songs flow together nicely without being an audible mush of one, long melody extended into a full album. The piano work calls into my mind some of Jack’s Mannequin’s best songs, which is a compliment coming from me.

“All I Want” is the sort of tear-jerker that touches you before you even hear its mournful lyrics: “You took my soul and wiped it clean / Our love was made for movie screens.” “High Hopes” is the sort of soft hit that you expect to hear playing in the background of your cool friend’s car, and you ask them to turn up the volume to get a better feel for the jangly piano and the harmonic guitar. “After the Fall,” which is by far the catchiest piece on the album is peppier and more inspiring than melancholy than either of the other tracks I’ve mentioned.

Of course, Garrigan can’t help but stray into darker territory again. In “Pray” he combines that aforementioned light piano plinking along the treble with an almost tribal drum-and-tambourine rhythm. He wails “I’ll pray for you / Do you pray for me?” and despite the simplicity of the lyrics, manages to make the repetition a plaintive cry rather than, well, a simple repetition.

The deluxe version of “In A Perfect World” gives us even a few more gems. While the title track, “Perfect World” doesn’t really offer any surprises, it’s a nice representative piece for the album. And “Lose Your Mind” has enough random imagery and psychedelic vibes to make it memorable for any listener.

All in all, “In a Perfect World” is a solid album that deserves some serious air time and publicity. Though it is definitely a little gloomy at parts, it’s artistic enough to get away with it, and still manages to provide enough catchy sing-along type of songs to keep both fans and newcomers alike, engaged.