In A Perfect World marks the full debut of young Irish four-piece, Kodaline. The band has been busy building a solid next-big-thing reputation on the back of EPs, live gigs, and sizeable YouTube hits. For all that, naysayers label Kodaline as stadium wannabes and no more than an identikit amalgam of the likes of Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Elbow, Mumfords, plus U2 and almost anyone Irish. Me? I think this quartet deserves acknowledgement separate from those usual suspects. Kodaline’s bravado is tethered to a confidence that comes from comradeship, life on the road and writing from experience along the way.
Such assurance is demonstrated by playing its strongest cards right from the start. Opener “One Day” connects instantly through front man Steve Garrigan’s arching falsetto offering consolation and positivity in the wake of disappointment: “life passes you by/ don’t waste your time on your own.” It conjures the image of scarves and flags hoisted as the song builds with waves of chiming guitar and a backbone of meaty rhythm. Okay, it sounds like Coldplay, but it’s bloody good. It’s followed by the lovelorn “All I Want”, another classic slow burner lit up by ripping guitar crescendos and driven by intensive percussion with inflections of Irish traditional music embedded.
From then on, Kodaline mixes up the palette. From the bright vigorous strumming of “Love Like This” to the elegiac intensity of “Pray” the band shows off broader capabilities. There’s space for the dreamy pop of “Big Bad World” alongside the near-Gospel intensity of “All Comes Down To” while all the songs are deftly constructed and never over-embellished, so they can largely be played live and sound just like this. The record offers the hope that comes from knowing despair and musical finesse throughout. With time, greater individuality will come. Right now, this is an accomplished and emotive statement of intent, cinematic in scope and able to raise goose bumps at will.
Essential tracks: “One Day”, “All I Want”, and “All Comes Down To”