Kodaline and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

kodalineWhen is good too good?  That’s the accusation levelled at Kodaline, who released their second album, “Coming Up For Air” last month.  The Irish Independent suggests that it’s the Irish way, a tendency to self-loathing, that sees local heroes doing well for themselves come in for public reviling.

“Bono bashing, after all, has been a national pastime since circa 1982. Snow Patrol are so widely looked down upon it comes as a minor surprise that they are able to attract tens of thousands to their shows. The Script are, if we are be kind, not taken seriously as a musical force. Even arguably more credible acts such as The Cranberries – loathed in Ireland within five minute of having a hit in Britain – and Sinead O’Connor are the subject of snide disdain.

Irish self-hate aside, this is probably a consequence of the distorting effect of the spotlight. When someone becomes famous, their flaws and foibles are blown up to super-sized proportions.”

Originally starting in 2005 as 21 Demands, the band from Dublin first came to the public’s attention in 2006 as runners up in RTÉ’s “You’re A Star” competition.

In 2007 21 Demands released their first single, “Give Me a Minute”, becoming the first independent artists to top the Irish singles charts.  They changed their name to Kodaline, and were joined by their current bassist, Jason Boland, in 2012, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Their eponymous EP, released in 2012, was met with critical acclaim, which saw the band nominated for the BBCs Sound of 2013 poll.  The following year they released first full length album, “In a Perfect World”, with several songs seemingly ready-made for TV soundtracks.  Critical acclaim, coming to the notice of TV shows such as “Gray’s Anatomy” and a very memorable 2-part video for “All I Want”:  all this combined meant the critics were soon baying for their blood.

Kodaline could have been totally scuppered by such reviews (most famous was the 2 liner from UK mag, Q: “Entirely Meritless”).  But they soldiered on, choosing instead to laugh at themselves and not take things too seriously.

“Starting out, I would read every single review and check out all the comments on YouTube,” says the drummer Vinny May.

“And it would get to me — it would affect me personally. However, you talk to other musicians and realise negativity is everywhere. Every musician is on the receiving end. It comes with the job.”

“Coming Up for Air” contains the same sorts of anthems as “A Perfect World” but with added edge.  It’s a departure from that album’s soft folk-pop/rock (is there such a genre?), and was recorded with Dublin-born producer Garrett “Jacknife” Lee at his studios near LA.

Lead track “Honest” is the one which resonates most with us, it’s an earworm and demands to be listened to over and over.  Other stand-out tracks include “Love Will Set You Free”, which is a soulful counterbalance to the in-your-face “Honest”.  “Coming Alive” harks back to the songs from “In a Perfect World” but overall the new direction of this album is one we’ve really enjoyed.

Comparisons have been made between Kodaline and Coldplay – but is that such a bad thing?  The band is an overnight sensation that’s taken 10 years to get there, so naturally they’ve had time to hone their craft.  Again, back to The Irish Independent:

“Among critics, Kodaline’s downfall is that they are simply too good at what they do. Ultimately, of course, that’s not their problem – it is ours.”

“Coming Up for Air” is available to buy from all good music retailers.  Kodaline are currently on tour across Europe.  Details are available from their website.

Listen to “Honest”. See what you think:


About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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