Kodaline’s catchy new single nevertheless fails to rise above cliché or break any new ground, writes Liv Francis-Pape
Kodaline’s latest release for their upcoming album, Politics of Living, is a mixed bag – somewhere caught between a juvenile premise and an effective delivery. The Irish band manages to unearth something genuine and organic from a widely overdone concept within their indie pop/folk genre, namely sympathy and support of a struggling loved one. The new single does have integrity on its slightly overbaked side as it veers away from originality for originality’s sake. But there is very little rise and fall, seemingly allergic to an emotional peak. Instead there is a quaint middle note on which is remains. This provides the charming possibility of it becoming a preteen pop anthem, but nothing more.
Kodaline’s shift in tone was pretty shocking. Granted, it had been a while since I’d laid ears on them and I was spoiled by their previous, haunting rawness in songs such as ‘All I Want’. Because of this skyscraper of a benchmark, anything was sure to be a bit ‘meh’, but I was pleasantly surprised by the previous, powerhouse pop feel of ‘Follow Your Fire. At least this new sound was still there in ‘Shed a Tear’ – just slightly under the skin. However, the song is almost frustratingly catchy. Add this to the visceral art of the video and my pubescent self would have revelled in it.
But it is just this that stops my praise in its tracks. The single seems to appeal to a much younger age group than ‘All I Want’, which explored physicality, sexuality, and loss in a temporal, eviscerating way. Meanwhile, ‘Shed a Tear’ has a sense of emotional discovery etched into its honest lyrics, the sort of epiphany you have as young adolescent of “Oh! This is empathy”, that widening of your sympathetic repertoire that comes before life properly hits you. This is, of course, a wholesome and cute premise but it lends itself to a generic pop feel that Kodaline is above.
Reigning in my inner cynic for a moment, it is an open hand for those of us who feel the hollow acidity of isolation – Steve Carrigan’s intermittent falsetto reassures the listener and states, ‘Oh […] I know you’ve been here before’. Lending an uplifting and poignant message which appeals to the universal epidemic that is loneliness, I would have to be entirely heartless to refute the reassurance and kindness in the relatable song.
‘Shed a Tear’ is a very pleasant listen and Kodaline have cleverly chosen the right season to release it. On Twitter Garrigan sweetly stated how he is ‘so happy with [the album] and can’t wait for people to hear it!’. Its sweeping topic, cliché words and flatlined tune are a disappointment – the track feels like a half-realized mimic of Coldplay. Finally, I’d like to hear much more of Garrigan’s pure, resonant, world-wearied falsetto in this latest release; preferably enough to drown in. His voice is the saving grace but, in all honesty, I could listen to him sing ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ for hours on end and be content.