I’m sincerely hoping any diehard Kodaline fans out there forgive the tardiness of this writeup on their new release, “In a Perfect World.” But honestly, some of us over here in the U.S. haven’t heard much about them just yet.
Kodaline (pronounced “Kodal-eye-n”) are a tight, Dublin-based band with a big guitar sound, nice chord changes and melodic, soulful lead vocals supplied by lead singer Steve Garrigan. While not really registering on Billboard – yet – the new album is doing well in Ireland and England; if you’re a regular listener of Portland Radio Project, you’re likely already familiar with them.
Their debut studio album opens with one of its strongest tracks, the heartfelt and reflective “One Day.” You’ll love the clarity of the lead vocals and the big-arena potential that’s apparent from the get-go.
Their poignant “All I Want,” written by Garrigan about an ex-girlfriend, is worth Googling on the internet. The band sang it for their recent Glastonbury appearance in June, and the YouTube video gives a glimpse into the size of their fan base – and the enthusiasm they can generate at a live performance. Special nod to drummer Vinny May for the evocative drums on this one.
All the strumming and thrumming on their already popular “Love Like This” – it peaked at number 8 on the Irish singles chart – is a bit reminiscent of The Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons. Nonetheless, the enthusiastic hustle of this folk-rock track keeps feet tapping and reveals another side to this interesting band.
From Dublin, band members Steve Garrigan (lead vocalist) and Mark Predergast (guitar) were childhood friends singing in a school choir together. They met drummer Vinny May, who was playing with another band, as teenagers, and bass player James Boland rounded things out.
“In a Perfect World” was recorded in six weeks in a small studio in Ireland. It’s a fairly new album in the U.S., but has been out in the U.K. for about a year now.
Kodaline is on a roll and pushing ahead, working hard to build momentum. In an interview with gigwise.com a year ago, the band talked about how “for years, we played to no one,” adding that they’re now happy to be playing to as many people in as many shows as possible. Band members say they especially enjoy playing at festivals.
On the new album, their U2-ish “Big Bad World” is another track amongst the best here. This is a strong band that plays well together and it’s easy to imagine them selling out the larger venues here in the U.S.
A lyrics sample:
We go out on our own
It’s a big, bad world outside
Carrying our dreams, and all that they mean
Try to make it all feel right.
“Brand New Day” another album highlight
“High Hopes” may be a bit too morose for some, so let’s keep going because its followup “Brand New Day” is one of the album’s most superlative tracks. It’s got everything: wistful and sincere vocals, great beat, fine soaring guitar and a chorus that will hook you.
Take a listen here:
To sum up
If you like Coldplay, you’ll likely embrace Ireland’s Kodaline. Some reviewers have been snarky about the similarities but that’s needless and a bit puzzling. In these hectic times when life can become a bit much, big soaring rock melodies that are well-performed, engaging and enjoyable should be received with open arms by we music aficionados.
The album’s last track, “Way Back When,” is a simple arrangement that’s sweet and disarming; one can certainly imagine still enjoying it years from now. It’s a fun sing-a-long reminiscent of their “Give Me a Minute” 2007 soft-rock hit in Ireland. And who knows? Today the band is still defining their niche…perhaps this laid-back mode will be their defining groove and main forte’.
A band to watch
“Must-have” tracks include “One Day,” “All I Want,” “Love Like This,” “Brand New Day,” “Big Bad World” and “Way Back When.”
It’ll be fascinating to see how this band progresses with their next release. In the meanwhile, take a minute to enjoy the diverse talents they bring to the stage and to our earbuds. They’ll be playing Portland’s Wonder Ballroom September 20.
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