We tend to write about bands that are still at the formative stages of their careers, often still found carving out their sound. Occasionally we notice that what they’re cooking up isn’t quite ready, yet we allow you to share a sneaky taste as the band step out into the light for the first time. Today’s recommendation is a good example of this, but it’s not that they aren’t ready, or that they aren’t accomplished musicians, it is in fact more that we’re not convinced they know which path to take with regards to their overall sound. Emerging music is a fascinating world in which to operate and we will be watching with great interest as we observe which route today’s band decide to head.
Kodaline are a four-piece group of lads from Dublin. Straight off of the bat we would like to congratulate them on picking a band name that’s just begging to be announced on a stadium’s tannoy system as they take to the stage. So often we get an awesome sounding band, only for them to ruin the image with a silly moniker. The rule should always be to name yourselves something that you can imagine being read out at Wembley without embarrassment. “Ladies aaaaaaaand gentlemen, please put your hands together for…Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong!” was never going to cut it was it? Aim for the stars and start by getting your bloody band name in order. So initially we thought that today’s group seem set upon the correct path. However, it’s when you listen through their debut EP, which we’ve been kindly handed a sneak preview of this week, that they start to randomly hop across a multitude of directions.
What this EP demonstrates is that they’re without doubt both talented and creative. Lead singer, Steve Garrigan, drummer, Vinny May Jnr, and guitarist, Mark Prendergast, all met at just eight years old in Ireland, so this path they’re on was started from an early age, and having grown up together their story is lent a humble sense of natural kinship that all great bands seem to need. U2 anyone? Like most of us, the travels their lives encountered involved heartache and break ups and this is predictably channelled through their music. “Break ups make it really easy to write” claims Garrigan. No two break ups are the same however and by sharing the song writing out among them it seems like the EP suffers somewhat from a bout of schizophrenia.
On the one hand you will hear tracks such as, Pray, which heads for the drama in darker corners, as Garrigan states “I’ll pray for you, do you pray for me?“, in an introspective theatrical ballad that pines for a lost love. The production is epic and the scale absolutely massive (Steve Harris, producer for the Dave Matthews Band and mixer for U2, was on hand in the studio). With the closing track on the EP, Perfect World, we get something utterly lovely, but it doesn’t quite fulfil the hope that it’s trying to attain, occasionally sounding like something a contemporary Christian church band might attempt whilst striving to attract a younger crowd. In a perfect world they’d sharpen up their edges and head for the dark side a little more than they do, as it’s when the band uncover their emotional damage that they seem to be at their most honest and interesting.
The opener to the EP, All I Want, feels built on stronger foundations though, sounding like a train built by Mumford & Sons, with light puffs of steam slowly chugging at the beginning, but by it’s close it is pumping at full speed. It wanders slightly too close to a Coldplay set of “whoahs” but that same style of design could see them sound-tracking an emotional BBC sporting montage before long. With this song they not only aim higher, but they finally seem to reach what they’re aiming for. However, it is with our favourite song on the EP, Lose Your Mind, that an entirely different dimension is uncovered. It channels the kind of psychedelic pop that your parents listened to. This is a contemporary version of that style of mind-bending 1960s hit, but instead of digesting a packet of brain-altering drugs this is done with a very deliberate application. Whether they’ll end up just another Kula Shaker, or a more interesting Jagwar Ma, is yet to be seen, but there’s no denying the awesome throb, swirl and swagger that whirls around the speakers when listening to this tune. The style is ramped up and the ideas kicked wide open, especially with the vocals, delivering the kind of modern song that would have Ray Davies salivating all over it.
The debut video for that same tune is attached below and is an absolute joy to watch, rewarding those that pay attention all the way through with a fantastically strange twist. The self-titled Kodaline EP is out on September 9th on the RCA Victor label. Overall the four tracks perhaps suffer from allowing too many ideas to pour all over it, with each track entirely unrelated to the other. It’s almost like four different bands on one EP, especially if you compare Lose Your Mind to Perfect World. You would imagine that by pulling together childhood friends they would compose something more coherent than this, but perhaps it is because they’re so familiar and comfortable with each other that no one person is leading their sound’s direction. However, there’s absolutely no denying their ability, their talented song craft and their refined ear for a gorgeous melody and appealing pop. Their ideas are complete and whilst self-contained their songs are a delight, so they have every chance of making it, but their future is dependent on which idea they’re going to run with for the full album. Get that selection right and their chosen path will surely be one that we’ll all be happy to follow. (MB)
KODALINE – LOSE YOUR MIND
KODALINE – PRAY