September 24, 2018 Kodaline – Politics of Living (Album Review)
Having already released two studio albums, and more EP’s than can be counted on one hand, Ireland’s Kodaline has quickly become a household name. Initially beginning in 2011 under the name 21 Demands, they garnered attention when they charted on the Irish Singles Chart, unsigned by a record label.
Becoming known as Kodaline in 2012, for Stephen Garrigan (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard, harmonica, mandolin), Mark Prendergast (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Vincent May Jr. (drums, percussion, vocals), and Jason Boland (bass, vocals), it has been a steady climb since. Hitting number one on album charts in their native Ireland with both 2013’s In a Perfect World and 2015’s Coming Up for Air, they are set to return with their latest album, Politics of Living on Friday, September 28, 2018 through RCA Records.
Giving fans a sampling of the new material, they did put out six of the twelve songs almost a month prior to the album’s official – “Follow Your Fire,” “Shed a Tear,” “Head Held High,” “I Wouldn’t Be,” and “Brother.” With that out there for everyone to adsorb, the official album kicks off with “Follow Your Fire,” a song that sounds kind of like Coldplay’s new style of going slightly EDM, but keeping a British Rock sound at the forefront.
Then, “Hide and Seek” continues the newer Kodaline sound which is angst-filled and raw. It has the vibe of one of those songs a teenager would listen to in the summer when they feel free and on top of the world, only to realized they cannot truly escape, but it was fun for the summer. Thereafter, “Angel” reverts slightly back to the days of “All I Want” with strong powerful lyricism. Laced with a simple backdrop of piano, but built with a synthetic static beat for each of the choruses, it has an eerie, slightly haunting sound which fits with the words of sending an angel home.
The next three songs were all part of the pre-release of the album. First there is “Worth it,” where Garrigan’s voice sound like The Weeknd, Harry Styles, and Charlie Puth, had a baby. The beat starts with the sound of British Rock, with the plucky guitar before building into a track with stronger guitar and bass before the chorus hits. “Shed a Tear” takes a note from Hozier, with the chant/choral vocals behind Garrigan’s, and it is very uplifting with the lyrics, offering help to any listener who might be struggling with something. Then there is the positive outlook of “Head Held High” to keep strong and truckin’ on, because everything will work out.
Moving on, “Born Again” has an almost Tribal beat, making for an almost religious experience. Vastly different, “I Wouldn’t Be” is for the most part a Capella with every now and again more voices joining in and fading out with the piano. Certainly more Pop than the rest of the record, “Don’t Come Around” features a haunting feeling, think Jaymes Young. This is before the heart-wrenching “Brother” about the bond of friendship and forming brotherhoods. Actually featured on their 2017 I Wouldn’t Be EP, it is powerful while also being a great blend of old and new Kodaline.
As explained, there is no short of diversity on Politics of Living. That said, “Hell Froze Over” is somehow Eminem and One Republic in one solid anthem. It builds and becomes a war cry for all the brokenhearted and betrayed. This is while “Temple Bar” acts as the bookend to the album. While Temple Bar is in fact a location in Ireland, referred to in the song, the music itself sounds like one of those that is sung through a bar filled with drunk and/or sad patrons. With a recorder making a rare appearance in popular music, it has a simplistic back beat, making for an interesting closing.
Politics of Living is a refreshing new approach for Kodaline. It has bops that will continuously get stuck in your head, beats that will make you tap a foot and rock out, but most of all, it has strong lyricism plus the vocals of Stephen Garrigan to sell it all. An album with a lot to offer, CrypticRock gives Politics of Living 5 out of 5 stars.