There are some albums that are, quite simply, the most obvious winners in the world. They might not be the outright best or classics in the making, but they can do what they set out to do and nail it with borderline superhuman accuracy. It’s even better when it comes from a newer act on the rise, and the narrative can readjust to them hitting the ground running on what amounts to their first proper try. So let’s all give a big hand to Koyo, the latest purveyors of the Long Island punk and emo sound, and who are making ingratiation among that scene’s naturally higher caste look easy.
What’s more, Would You Miss It? is so self-evidently good that there isn’t much point in dwelling on the minutiae around it. Just a cursory look at the tracklist reveals guest appearances from glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo and I Am The Avalanche’s Vinnie Caruana, a pair of fellow Long Islanders (or thereabouts) to automatically legitimise Koyo as this kind of high-level act from the jump. There’s also Vein.fm’s Anthony DiDio on here from across state lines in Massachusetts, a connection that not only geographically makes sense as another northeasterner, but acts as a degree of separation to Four Year Strong, the band with whom Koyo probably share the most in common on the most visible level. It’s not hard to see—the rough-and-tumble pop-punk that’s liable to get much gruffer and meatier than average, and a full-throated vocal performance from Joseph Chiaramonte to tie up a suite of instincts for this specific brand of pop-punk to feel much more substantive.
There’s also an aspect of hardcore to Would You Miss It?, even on top of everything else, albeit one that’s more contextual than stylistic. It fits within that offshoot of 2000s pop-punk and emo, in the melodic approach that’s thriving in a contemporary space à la Fiddlehead or Militarie Gun. It’s a thread of crossover potential that the Long Island sound can easily foster, in how it highlights all the crunch and gravel and sounds pretty phenomenal for it. At its apex, DiDio’s screams on Flatline Afternoon come in with seamless ease; the style morphs into something heavier but in a way that’s completely fluid, and as a part of a build in which that’s a natural capper. It’s a testament to Koyo’s familiarity with their own inner workings, and how bulkier mixes and searing edges only bring out even more among the classic sound.
And with all of that onboard, what transpires is a collection of pop-punk and emo smashes that, as previously alluded to, wins with unfettered ease. Well, perhaps not all the time; I Might Not might be the rustiest link with the double-time drums evoking the 2010s pop-punk that doesn’t sit as comfortably, but even then, Koyo’s existing hardcore sensibilities can shape it enough to ensure it’s not that bad. Otherwise though, Would You Miss It? remains pretty legit all the way down. Obviously the slamming hooks are present and accounted for, really hitting those high watermarks on the likes of Sayonara Motel and Postcards (and that’s by no means exhaustive). Similarly, there’s loads of energy in play and a sense of roughness and momentum, most prominent in the drum rolls across Flatline Afternoon and a darker mood that fits perfectly on what becomes the most explicitly hardcore moment. There’s a seldom a moment wasted here; despite all the gristle that Koyo leave in, this is a remarkably lean listen.
Very much like the majority of Long Island punk stalwarts, then, of which Koyo do a consistently fine job of fitting alongside. At a multitude of junctures, they’ll arrive in the ballparks of Taking Back Sunday or I Am The Avalanche, imbued with a believability that’s so commonplace in that scene around them. Particularly in the writing style, there’s an unfiltered honesty and angst that Chiaramonte’s technique and assertion lends itself to flawlessly. He does deserve to be in the same conversation as the local heroes that shape Koyo, in the vein of character if nothing else. It shouldn’t go unnoticed the angles of maturity that are crucial in shaping Would You Miss It? too, to fit with the palette of the sound and the weightier tone. Something like What’s Left To Say has the template of ‘unrequited pop-punk love’ down pat, in a very natural, appreciable way that’s not just chasing a relatable scenario. It’s also the track where Vinnie Caruana makes his appearance, in the role of bolstering elder statesman who mightn’t be all that distinct in his contributions, but serves in a ‘passing-the-torch’ moment that can be really gratifying, especially for where it comes in on the album.
By that point, Koyo have already made light work of the sound they’re diving into, but it’s the clincher in decisively locking them in as a pretty big deal to come. They’ve already been cutting their teeth to establish that—between punk circles, hardcore crowds and a manner of others in between—but a proper body of work can effectively serve as shorthand for a true star-making jump in situations like this. It’s the unassuming nature of Would You Miss It? that paradoxically does most of all; there’s no need for flash or garish gimmicks when Koyo’s all-natural appeal speaks for itself, and speaks at a volume of kilodecibels. Though, even from the first listen—or at certain points, the first impression—that’s not surprising in the slightest.
For fans of: I Am The Avalanche, The Wonder Years, Four Year Strong
‘Would You Miss It?’ by Koyo is released on 29th September on Pure Noise Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall