Single Review: Kodaline – Honest

By on Monday, 8th December 2014 at 12:00 pm

Since early tipping by Gary Barlow 2 years ago, the release of early singles ‘High Hopes’ and ‘Love Like This’ and the amazing response to their debut album ‘In a Perfect World’ released in June 2013, TGTF friends Kodaline have been riding high and playing sold out shows across the globe. This autumn, they suffered a temporary setback when bass player Jason Boland suffered a wrist injury, causing the band to cancel their North American tour. But not all is lost. The band have been hard at work in between all those live appearances this year to work on album number two, whose title has been revealed to be ‘Coming Up for Air’. While the LP’s release date in 2015 is still unknown, last week Fearne Cotton had the first play of its lead single on Radio 1.

‘Honest’ is, for all intents and purposes, is a song about communication. This makes a whole lot of sense, since misunderstood communication usually stems from insufficient frankness and dishonesty. The first thing I thought about when I heard the song on their YouTube was “wow, this would make an amazing track for further examination on Music in Notes!‘ In early November, I analysed SOHN‘s ‘Artifice’, which follows a similar theme of a breakdown in communication in a couple. I know some of you aren’t examining song lyrics with a magnifying glass like I am, so I’m going to go over the music side of the song first, then briefly give my thoughts to the meaning of the song. I’ll leave the detailed interpretation for a future post on MiN.

Kodaline have headed in a slightly different direction in this single, which from my editor’s perspective I find intriguing. And in a good way. It continues the Irish band’s successful pop formula, which will serve to solidify their current fan base. But the overall sound is more muscular, more richer than anything on ‘In a Perfect World’, going into power ballad territory. Further, the single seems to represent Kodaline’s stepping away from their folk / country and western (‘Love Like This’, ‘Way Back When’) and gospel (‘All Comes Down’) leanings, so one has to wonder if they’ve decided to permanently retire the harmonica and mandolin. What is left is a more classic pop sound that will appeal to a much wider audience.

Thankfully, they aren’t saying goodbye to their gorgeous harmonies, which are on full display on the rousing chorus of ‘Honest’. The words “Say what you want to say / but if you lie to me again / I’ll be the one who walks away / is it in you to be honest?”, bolstered by a huge-sounding, buzzy synth line, are resolute, yet somehow oddly uplifting, as the chords change from minor to major. This shift feels especially nice, as the verses are purposely minor, indicating conflict.

What I especially like about this song and so many that I have interpreted on Music in Notes is it has a clear message, set within a theme that everyone can relate to, whether you’re 8 or 80. Even if you’re a Kodaline fan who’s too young to drink and has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, the message is still applicable. We’ve all been given the silent treatment, all been lied to before. Some relationships can be repaired by better communication. But sometimes, if the other person refuses to be honest, the only solution is to walk away. We also don’t know which way this relationship went, so there’s a cliffhanger that may or may not be explained in the new album expected in early 2015. Regardless of what happens with ‘Coming Up for Air’, you can be sure that Kodaline has closed out 2014 with a real winner.


Stream ‘Honest’ below. You can pre-order the single now; it will be released on the 1st of February 2015. Stay tuned for the release date of ‘Coming Up for Air’, the band’s second album.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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