Kodaline – High Hopes/Live

KodalineKodaline were first featured here back in October. Since then they’ve sound-tracked Google’s 2012 Zeitgeist, featured on the BBC Sound Of 2013 long list and been snapped up by Sony. Its been a pretty good few months for them really. We had hoped to add a HMCMB session to that list of achievements. Yes, that is a modest overestimation of  our status. They were playing in Cambridge. We had lined up a great filming location. Management seemed fairly keen on the idea. Then the weather got involved. That one uncontrollable factor. It was a grey, drizzly day. Filming inside would’ve produced a pale imitation of an outdoor session, so we called it off. Its frustrating when factors outside of our control mess things up. Guess we just have to trust in it evening out in the long term. Or some kind of deluded higher process like that.

On the plus side, the weather couldn’t ruin their gig at The Portland Arms that night.  We were intrigued to see how their sound translated live. Turns out that it is just as schizophrenic as it is on record. They opened up with Lose your Mind.  Psychedelic synth, jangly tambourine and trippy vocals, it couldn’t have contrasted more with the subsequent dark melancholy of Pray. That same discontinuity featured throughout the set. But that isn’t a criticism. Its better to hear a band experiment than settle into a sound that might not do them justice. It was such experimentation that provided the undoubted highlight of the evening. Garrigan slung a harmonica over his head and grabbed a mandolin to hand. The result was Love Like This. It was brilliant. It had a folk edge, the instruments were a give away on that front. It was the most authentic track of the evening: powerful, driven and uplifting. With any luck we will be hearing more of this. It even surpassed All I Want, which is quite an achievement. Beating that anthemic close into second place is no easy task.

High Hopes is Kodaline’s latest EP. The eponymous single also shows a different side of the bands sound, whilst somehow remaining familiar. There are similarities to All I Want in structure. This hints at the dangers of trying to recreate flashes of brilliance. They manage to avoid this by keeping things just different enough. The piano adds additional depth to Garrigan’s vocals. The build is beautifully subtle. Meticulously crafted, the epic cries of “I’ve got high hopes” almost come out of nowhere. The Answer is a plainer affair. A gentle jig through the apathetic pain of being lost and not caring for a way out. Then we get a cover and a remix to close off. Kodaline give a more traditional feel to LCD Soundsytem’s All My Friends. Everything Everything take the opposite approach to All I Want, layering their trade mark electronic distortion atop the original. As a result the EP doesn’t offer many hints as to Kodaline’s  future direction, so we will just hope that that direction sounds something like Love Like This