Kodaline: One Day at a Time review – Safe, predictable and finely tuned

Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 06:00

   
 

Album:
One Day at a Time

Artist:
Kodaline

Label:
RCA/B-Unique

Genre:
Pop

Kodaline were scheduled to play the Olympia as part of a whopping eight-night residency. Their homecoming party has been postponed to mid-September which, despite a slightly accelerated lockdown exit, seems rather unlikely.  

But this reveals a lot about where Kodaline are right now. For most moderately successful Irish acts, an Olympia slot would be the pinnacle of their career. For this stadium-headlining behemoth, it is as intimate as they get. 

Every album Kodaline have put out to date has gone to number one, but they’re much, much more than a local success story. The Swords band have received a staggering billion Spotify streams, and 600 million YouTube views and counting.

21,000 Kodaline fans were welcomed to a sun-filled field on Friday night. Photograph: Darragh Kane
21,000 Kodaline fans were welcomed to a sun-filled field on Friday night. Photograph: Darragh Kane

The opening track of One Day at a Time, Wherever You Are, has already received 4.2 million views on YouTube alone. Kodaline mightn’t exactly be the coolest Irish band on the block, but most musicians would kill for these kind of figures and exposure.

One Day at a Time (which sounds like something Leo Varadkar would cautiously say at a Cabinet meeting) will smash even more records. Kodaline’s music is safe and predictable, but it provides musical comfort food for millions.

Current single Saving Grace sums them up perfectly, a simple and half-decent love song that will dominate radio playlists. On The Evening and Spend it With You, they enlist the string arranging services of Rob Moose, who has worked with Bon Iver, Jay-Z and Vampire Weekend. It’s a welcome attempt at diversifying, but ultimately doesn’t make the songs bite.

Unimaginative

On one level, One Day at a Time is a triumphant tweaking of their sound for more FM-friendly fodder. On another, it’s a text-book lesson in how to make pop that is immaculately produced but unimaginative.

This kind of stuff emerged with Coldplay and spawned many imitators. Kodaline splice homogeneous pop piffle with landfill indie lite that is not about re-inventing the wheel but fine-tuning it to perfection.

Everett True once memorably wrote about being stuck in traffic outside a Coldplay concert in Australia. “The fear of actually hearing some of their bland, duller than dull and coagulating dishwater music turned an otherwise innocuous traffic jam into the longest two minutes of my life,” he wrote.

While this sort of music is a sonic scourge of late capitalism, and Alan McGee’s infamous barb about “bed-wetters’ music” still stings, it sells, sells, sells. The release of One Day at a Time is a bit like McDonald’s reopening after lockdown. Not exactly a cause for celebration, but the queues will be around the block.