Kodaline: Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air
(RCA Records)

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Kodaline struck upon a winning formula with their debut by combining uplifting alt rock with folk sensibility. Unfortunately, Coming Up for Air reaches for an epic, stadium sing-along quality without having the chops to back it up.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly about the album makes it feel so disappointing. Most of the tracks have that edge of anguish that made In a Perfect World so captivating, but the music has become more melodic while the lyrics have become more banal. For instance, far too much of the song “Unclear” is dedicated to a chorus compromised of the lines “When the future’s so unsure/When the future’s so unclear.” There’s nothing wrong with a bit of polish, but the band seems to have lost a bit of personality.

There are still moments when potential shines through. “Human Again” and “Play the Game” channel some retro rock and have a bit of fun swagger. Closing track “Love Will Set You Free” features tender vocals, a grounding piano line, perfectly measured, emotional vocals, and a gorgeous choral ending combined with brass.

If a few more tracks had gone in these directions, Coming Up for Air would be engaging. Unfortunately, the album as a whole plays it safe and runs the risk of losing the audience so hard won by the first record.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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