One that fits the ‘highly anticipated’ bill, KOYO release their second album. You Said It sees them moving on significantly from their excellent debut.
Release Date: 26th June 2020
Label: 88 Watt
Formats: CD / DL / vinyl
That eponymous debut album – one that PROG magazine mistakenly referred to as Lost In The Kingdom (tut-tut, lacking a bit of research there) – was a superb swirl of songwriting encased in a psychedelic and progressive veneer.
The interim release, Live At RAK (our review) sealed the deal and cleared the path, perhaps drawing a line under their refusal, nice though it may have been, to get bogged down with their Prog tagging.
With a determination not to be tarred with a genre-defining brush, things are markedly different on You Said It and it’s not just in frontman Huw Edwards drastically restyled coiffure – we’re talking what hey used to call a threepenny all off. Musically and lyrically, they talked about getting more realistic and down to earth and You Said It provides proof in the pudding.
So – no more strange birds in the sky or experimental tetrachromatic excursions. Themes of loss and relationship breakdowns, of layers of personality and of truth and illusion all surface. Indeed, Edwards talks of the rawness in Rolling In My Head, bizarrely clothed in an easy paced Summery lull of a tune that belies the content, written during the grieving stage of a break-up.
There’s nothing quite as straightforward as the hefty rock of Before. A track that’s missed an album slot, but there’s just enough time for a little retune before we’re away with a blues and two’s punk fired urgency on Same Mistake Twice as Charlie Barnes is welcomed into the line up (not the Charlie Barnes who plays in the expanded version of Bastille as well as having his own solo career). Having delivered the first record with just the one guitar the subsequent live line up with two guitars delivers an extra punch that’s evident from the denser hooks on Circles.
Jacob Price retains the Richard Barbieri role in the way his keyboards and samples add textures rather than play the role of a lead instrument as things get wired, weird and angular. No wonder we’re asked “what the hell is going on?” on Ostracised. Dan Comlays bass provides a rib shaking thump as opposed to the spring he adds elsewhere.
There’s just enough in the tempos to avoid being shoehorned into the shoegaze gang and while the instrumental Murmur might evoke a hint of cinematic Vangelis, the business end of the album sees KOYO shift into the gear marked ‘overdrive’. Obelisk stands like a mighty colossus that gives the occasional caress as respite from the general pummelling. Slugging it out in a fight to the death is Against All Odds . Forget that dreadful Eighties film and the sugary title song and reconnect the phrase with the something more beguiling and biting.
Did someone mention Radiohead? The occasional higher-pitched vocal and sparseness and the explosive dynamics and off-kilter excursions. And then we’re back in the room for the biggest clue in Against All Odds. The ominous opening half building to a frenzied shrill guitar-led freak-out. Indulging in some controlled mania, it plants a big fat flag on he album with a glorious noise that almost overwhelms the vocal.
In a place where the success of that first album has given them the chance to avoid the path where you don’t get to choose. It’s KOYO but maybe not as you know it. Expect the unexpected.
Listen to the title track, You Said It, here: