No Sleep Records

Rating: 3/5




After releasing his debut full length, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native Koji is back on the EP circuit. Not shy to release his music in short and concise formats, Koji has always preferred to do his own thing rather than follow any sort of mandated release pattern. His latest comes in the form of a 4-track EP entitled Fury, which finds Koji expanding upon his intimate, acoustic-inspired sessions in the same full-band environment that first took root in Crooked In My Mind.

 This time around, Koji isn’t afraid to further expand upon his plugged in personae. In fact, the title track gets a little gritty early on with some muddy alt-rock guitar action. It’s not quite garage-grade fuzz, but there’s a certain steady buzzing flow to the riffs that certainly makes for a bold opening statement when combined with the chorus’ steady bass groove and Koji’s airy vocals. Producer Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, Balance and Composure) makes use of Koji’s knack for intimate, personal connections in songs like “Breaking And Broken,” whereas those like “Everyday” build upon a foundation of rich indie-rock near-hooks that ebb and flow between a drum-drawn, jaunting tempo and catchy chorus marking the track as an approachable pop-leaning high.

 Sonically Fury is a solid step forward; it’s lyrically where Koji struggles slightly this time around. Even when you start singing along, the words linger in your head aren’t of the most striking consequence considering Koji’s social-activist intentions. For instance, the well-compose fourth and final track, “Question,” centres around the classically Koji chorus line, “I hate this question, that I might always be asking.” But the simple lyrics becomes so prominent, recurring and relied upon, that the deeper message gets overshadowed (the track requires an unnaturally close listen to mine its depth).

Increasingly plugged in and reaching for catchier highs, Koji once again aims to evolve his musicianship. Instrumentally, Fury is a lush landscape with plenty of highlights. But in tightening his scope, Koji seems to have masked some of his lyrical depth. Without ignoring his intent, Fury’s song messages aren’t quite as impactful as their earlier counterparts. While it doesn’t detract from Fury’s enjoyment, it shows that Koji needs to further adjust his style to fully realize his emergent direction.