Album Review: KOYO – You Said It

KOYO tackle relationships and loss in emphatic fashion on album number two.

KOYO tackle relationships and loss in emphatic fashion on album number two.

Since the release of their 2017 self-titled debut full length, KOYO are an act that have been carving out a name for themselves and making their mark in the UK music scene with their critically-acclaimed and impossible to pin-down sound.

The weight of this increased level of anticipation and expectation following such a stellar debut could have hung around the necks of the Leeds outfit when it came to album number two, but instead looks to have provided a catalyst for the act to build off. You Said It feels like a coming of age moment for KOYO. The writing more concise and grounded in reality, with themes such as heartbreak and loss and rebuilding rearing their gritty heads.

‘Same Mistake Twice’ sets the tone for the LP, after a false start, crunching riffs and drums take over and establish a no-nonsense, high-octane assault that demands the attention of its listener. This is a statement of intent.

The previously released ‘Circles’, ‘Ostracised’ and ‘You Said It’ follow, maintaining the sense of power and importance that the opener possessed. The main thing that KOYO seem to have honed in on with their second release is that even in some of the more unconventional and angular moments on this album, there is an insatiable groove-laden indie rock heartbeat that runs through everything, which ensures that things remain as appealing and thoroughly enjoyable as ever.

Things slow down a little on ‘Surrounded’, but this overwhelming sense of strength and raw force is still on full display. This sense of slowed down yet brutally uncompromising power echoes acts like Deftones at times, especially with its breathy and almost hypnotic vocals. Other times draw parallels to Thom York’s more daydream-like lulls and ebbs and flows.

Throughout the album there is the feeling of being on a journey. There is a sense of closure and catharsis that is present throughout, as frontman Huw Edwards thrashes and kicks and screams while confronting and making peace with a faltering and failing relationship. It really amps up this idea of gravity and the down to earth sensibilities that the act have really embraced on this album. ‘You Said It’ is an album steeped in, but not burdened by, reality.

‘Rolling In My Head’ feels like the calm before the storm. The track is rousing and often moving but always feels like it is holding back, like it is building towards something bigger and more monumental that is slowing creeping up from the horizon. ‘Against All Odds’ is that storm. A track that broods and swaggers towards you, from its understated riffs to Huw’s calculated and poised vocal performance. The track builds and builds before giving way to a sea of riffs and drums. The eight minute track feels more like an emotional release than a song, filled with tension that builds and builds before leaving it all exposed in the albums final moments.

In an album that feels like a culmination of time spend grieving the death of a relationship, you come away with a sense of closure and satisfaction, almost as if you have lived it yourself. KOYO have expanded upon their sound and if anything, made it feel even more memorable and captivating, while also delving into darker and more poignant territory. There is a lot to sink your teeth into here, and upon more listens there will be additional facets to the sound and songwriting that are uncovered as you delve into the tracks. Whether you’re here for an in-depth experience or just at surface level listen, You Said It is a thoroughly enjoyable psych-rock album with a litany of highlights that will continue to pull you back for more.

LIVE DATES (subject to COVID-19)
Sep 5th, Birmingham, Sunflower Lounge
Sep 19th, Leeds, Key Club (Delta Sleep support)
Oct 2nd, Bradford, Al’s Juke Bar
Oct 10th, Blackpool, Bootleg Social (supporting Declan Welsh TBA)
Oct 28th, Brighton, Green Door Store
Oct 29th, London The Old Queen’s Head
Nov 7th, Leeds, Lending Room
+ more to be added