This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: If you believe that music has value, you should buy this. Okay, fine. It has a lot of bass, electric guitar, and rock influences. I still think everyone should love this album!
Album: Coming Up For Air
Genre: alternative, indie, rock
Music Rating: 8/10
Lyrics Rating: 9/10
Sounds Like: Keane, The Script, Snow Patrol, Train
One Sentence Summary: This album is an enduring, classic album that epitomizes what alternative rock music should be (except it was just released last year).
Best thing About this Album: The lyrics and music are so technical, compelling, catchy, and well-matched throughout the album as it paints a tale spanning the spectrum of emotions. I’m honestly quite floored at how they were able to set the bar so high and repeatedly exceed expectations throughout the entire album.
One thing I wish was different: I will admit: there were a few tiny effects here and there that I kind of didn’t prefer (children’s choral background vocals, spoken lyrics with strange reverb) but most of the experimentation and implementation of different techniques were amazingly genius and worked brilliantly I thought.
This is a playlist of all of the songs from the album that will automatically play through the whole album. To skip to a particular song, click on the menu icon in the upper left-hand corner.
Before we begin, I just want to tell you the story of how I discovered this album. Feel free to skip ahead, but it is entirely too serendipitous for me to not at least mention how we made our acquaintance. I hate housework. Cannot endure. It is incredibly painful for me for some reason. Tell me to go outside and chop some trees or climb on the roof to rake leaves? Sure! I can do that. But the mundane indoor tasks I find unendingly tiresome. In my childhood, I soon found out that the only thing that could make housework tolerable was music. To this day, I have one vinyl record that is reserved for cleaning my room. I do not allow myself to listen to it unless I’m cleaning my room. And do you know what? No matter how tragic of a state my room gets into, I can always get it entirely spic-and-span by the time that record is over. (Nobody better Mary Poppins me on this! My process is real and wonderful, and Mary Poppins is a jerk. I am not spoonful-of-sugar-ing this.)
There was a particular Tuesday (the second Tuesday in February of 2015) that I decided I must vacuum. Ugh. I really didn’t want to, so I decided that a new album would put some pep in my step and be just the motivation I needed. Hey, don’t judge me! I’ll think up any excuse I can to buy new music. You may or may not know this, but before the terrible, horrible, no good, dirty-rotten very bad decision was made to move new music release day to Fridays globally, Tuesday was the most glorious day of the week in the United States. (Long live Janesday! I still observe it, but I’ve begrudgingly accepted #MusicFriday as well. That’s another story!) In any case, Tuesday heralded the advent of new music to explore and discover. This particular day, I did something drastic that I’d never done before: I bought an album that I knew absolutely nothing about. 😱 I felt like a toddler drinking Kool-Aid from a sippy cup on the carpet, and it felt good! I opened up the new music page, closed my eyes, and pointed. Then I bought and downloaded that album. (I’m getting anxiety even writing this down. I still can’t believe I did this. This is such a stupid idea! Don’t try this at home, kids.) Having no idea what to expect, but running on an adrenal high from the spontaneity of it all, I grabbed my best headphones and braced myself for a terrifying sonic adventure. Cue up my cell phone. Plug in the vacuum. And…play. 😱
I could not believe my luck! The first song was amazing! And the second. And the third. And then I stopped vacuuming. I wasn’t actually expecting real, amazing music, but once this was playing in my ears, there was no way I wasn’t going to give this my full attention. The vacuum essentially became my dancing partner/air guitar/mic stand in what I’m sure was a terrifying display of musical enjoyment. That poor, poor carpet. Totally worth it.
Opening up the album with an expansive conversation on honesty and expectations, the piano, drums, and synths instantly convert me from listener to fan both technically and emotionally, and by the time the guitars come in, I am fully living in the world that the song has built around me.
Can’t not talk about: There are so many moving parts that work together so fluidly, but I think the backing vocals really take this thing over the top for me!
2. The One* – check out my thoughts on this song
As a wedding song, this track had the potential to veer off-course into mushy territory with weak or no foundation, but I am happy to report that not to be the case as the compelling rhythmic drive of triplets and gorgeous string section carry this song to a land of well-written-adorableness.
Can’t not talk about: Feel all the feels!
From the second this song beings, I’m already on board as ears anticipate a slight island take on alternative rock in subtle musical parallels that do not disappoint and lyrics speak of helping to wake someone up who has been sleepwalking and encouraging them to connect with the world around them with a second chance.
Can’t not talk about: It is quite remarkable that I cannot decide if the music or lyrics are more technically incredible, because I could gush about either for paragraphs. It’s joyously baffling that one song has such a high caliber of both lyrics and music that work together in such harmony!
4. Human Again
Going a wee bit electronic and very rock & roll on this one, guitars have hosted a musical revolution that I can’t help but get on board with as heavy rhythmic accents get me pumped up for the chorus which is a more punk take on the story of the last track, this time the singer being alone, without support, and fighting his own way out.
Can’t not talk about: “Open your eyes to the beauty inside of your body, your soul, and your heart.”
Lyrically, this song is a classic example of minimalism at its finest as a beautifully surprising mental progression of self-reflection points out fallacy in the pessimistic point-of-view and leaves us with a heightened sense of impact due to the sonic openness and understated thoughtfulness surrounding it.
Can’t not talk about: The wailing vocals between verses are EVERYTHING!!!
6. Coming Alive
Finally coming out on the other side of the storm that began in track 3 (thanks to the person from track 2), this song is a joyful celebration of life and everything good about humanity.
Can’t not talk about: I dare you to not dance while this song is playing. Good luck.
Intricate and exceptional lyrics lay the foundation for an ethereal experience about the reality of the natural fallibility of man, but also the inherent goodness therein that is not detracted from by said flaws.
Can’t not talk about: “Take it away. Make it all better. If not for a day, maybe forever” and also 1:05 = musical magic
The bass is working overtime as this infectiously danceable party groove plays overtop of some amazing lyrics, giving inspiration to keep on going, despite the inevitable difficulties of life.
Can’t not talk about: Lyrics on the second verse are absolutely perfect for the tone, and the trilly electric guitar can only be described as an absolute stroke of genius. Miraculously enough, this is not my favorite track of the album, but my mind still has a hard time processing that there is a song I love even more than this one.
Slowing down to a more melancholy tone, the guitars go acoustic on this track as perfectly vulnerable (yet strangely soothing) vocals lament in heartbreaking questioning of a relationship gone wrong.
Can’t not talk about: STRINGS! (about 2:20) VOCALS! (all the time)
10. Everything Works Out in the End
Keeping the same tone of the previous track, but opening up a bit more musically and relying heavily on piano this time, this song is a cry to the heavens about complete and utter loss.
Can’t not talk about: “I got tricked into believing you were the only one for me” <– Heartbreaking call-back to track #2.
11. Play the Game
This song breaks the door down, giving you whiplash from the last song as a strong punk rock rhythm punches through the walls of grief and gears up for an empowering fight song.
Can’t not talk about: “I don’t want to be a pretender. I just want to be me.”
12. Love Will Set You Free*
This song strikes my soul with so much power, that all possible words pale in the shadow of such sheer greatness.
Can’t not talk about: My love for this song is so strong it is almost unutterable. That chord progression though! It is instantaneously both brand new & exciting, and a familiar old friend bringing comfort and warmth to my heart. How it managed such a feat, I may never know. The first time I heard this song, my mind was piqued by the unexpected, yet I felt certain that they had borrowed from an old classic that had lived dormant in my mind for decades. The music felt new, but it was already inside me. I’ve yet to place the familiarity, so if y’all have any ideas: COMMENT SECTION. I want to hear from you.
Conclusion: I heard this album the day it was released in the United States, and have listened to it hundreds of times since, but my brain is still processing how so much amazingness can possibly be contained within one album.
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles
Click here to read through Kodaline lyrics (including all the songs from this album).