REVIEW: Koji – Crooked in My Mind

koji

Artist: Koji
Album: Crooked in My Mind
Genre: Acoustic/Punk/Folk
Label: Run For Cover Records

Koji is arguably my favorite person in the music industry, and that’s a fact. Not only is he one of the most genuine and inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, but his music backs up his inner beauty. I’ve been clamoring for a full length since I heard his side of his split with Into It. Over It., and when I finally saw the announcement about his debut full-length record, Crooked in My Mind, I was overjoyed. Anticipation grew to an all time high, and the album immediately shot up to one of my most sought after records of the year, so when I saw this record hit my inbox for review, my heart nearly exploded. I got into my bed, put some headphones on, dimmed the lights, and turned up the record. After listening upwards of seven times in the past few days, I have mixed feelings over what I think about Crooked in My Mind, and I still cannot tell if that is a good thing. Let’s unravel these feelings.

First things first, some of the arrangements on this record are absolutely gorgeous. With tons of different instrumentation throughout the record, Koji really stepped up his game in creating a sound that stretches far beyond the acoustic guitar that he plays. “Chasing a Ghost” ends the first track with a gorgeous string arrangement that really sets a tone for the record. Koji has been playing different variations of that song for a while now, so it’s nice to hear a solidified piece that I think really dials in the emotions he was trying to capture. There’s a really dark tone that permeates throughout Crooked in My Mind, which I find to be an interesting choice considering Koji’s relatively positive-sounding back catalog.

To be completely transparent, this record has taken multiple listens to really sink in for me. On my first few spins, I honestly found a lot of these songs blur together, and there were many points where I stopped myself and wondered what was going on. Maybe it’s because his previous material was really quite infectious, I was expecting every single song to blow me away. When you release an LP that counts in at nine total tracks, there comes a certain expectation that every single song is going to be beyond perfect. While some tracks are growing on me, I was not blown away by a good proportion of songs throughout my first listen through. It’s completely possible my feelings towards this material will change in time, but as it stands now, I do not think this is his strongest effort to date. Having the utmost respect for Koji, both as a musician and a humanitarian, it is hard to admit that, but it is the truth nonetheless.

Lyrically, there are a few really strong songs on Crooked in My Mind. “Distance/Divide” tells the story of the burden of being far away from the people you care about. The bluesy instrumentation really props up the sentiment, dragging you along and enveloping you in the intimate feelings Koji is putting on display. However, with most of the songs, the instrumentation appears to be the focus of the record, rather than the lyrics, making it hard for me to truly fall in love with each track. While the music is absolutely beautiful, I can’t help but feel like the lyrics were more of an afterthought in the writing process. When lyrics aren’t as strong, I can’t help but feel a sense of incompleteness to a record. Koji sounds wonderful when he sings on this record, but how he chooses to express his feelings this time around just doesn’t hit the mark for me.

I want to reiterate one sentiment about Crooked In My Mind: this record is growing on me. Maybe after a bunch more spins I’ll understand what I’m listening to. Maybe there will come a point one late Summer night where I throw the record I pre-ordered on my turntable and things just click. I may be completely wrong here and I could be missing something. I hope that point comes, because Koji is still one of the best singer-songwriters in the punk game right now, and I urge you to go and see him live. He’s a truly magnificent person whose live show is both passionate and inspiring. I will most certainly be heading out to one of his Summer dates, because maybe these songs will make more sense to me.

SCORE: 6.5/10
Written By: Tyler Osborne 

Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio (www.facebook.com/tozedgeradio). I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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  • magnificent

    why would you review a record when you dont even know how you feel about it yet?

    here’s an actual review: http://propertyofzack.com/post/49269597741/poz-review-koji-crooked-in-my-mind

  • I think I made it very clear how I felt about this record, and it was that I felt very incomplete throughout my listening of the record. There is gorgeous instrumentation, but the lyrics fall flat.

    Thank you for reading and your honest criticism.