Darius Koski - Sisu (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Darius Koski

Sisu (2015)

Fat Wreck Chords

Since the formation of Swingin’ Utters in 1987, Darius Koski has been a songwriting force, responsible for an amazing string of great albums over three decades. On top of killing it with the Utters, his work in Filthy Thieving Bastards and the Re-Volts, while different from that of the Utters, always carried Koski’s indelible mark, and proved his talent for diverse songwriting, even as his output remained decidedly punk rock in spirit. On his first ever solo album, Sisu, Koski has created his most ambitious and eclectic batch of songs to date, stepping outside of his punk rock wheelhouse and into something more experimental and personal.

Created over the course of over a decade, Sisu uses an arsenal of traditional, acoustic-based instruments to create a pastiche of styles, a blend that includes bluegrass, country, blues, and American and Irish folk. The tone of the resulting album, swirling with a pleasant accompaniment of banjos, accordions and all manner of string instruments, is laid back and leisurely, even as it displays a musical maturity and dexterity that impresses. There are no explosive drum beats or grinding distorted guitars to be found on Sisu; instead, Koski delves into much mellower territory. In fact, this might be the mellowest record that has ever been released on Fat Wreck Chords.

Koski’s melodies will still ring familiar and true to fans of his past projects, and many moments on Sisu could easily pass for one of the more experimental songs on a Filthy Thieving Bastards album. Koski is clearly in tune with the traditional musical stylings of yesteryear, particularly bluegrass and country, and one can sense the excitement with which he creates these songs. He has earned the right to make this album, and the passion is palpable. That said, those looking for music to get their adrenalin pumping would be advised to move along through the rest of Koski’s catalog. While it is unquestionably punk rock that Koski has chosen to follow his musical heart on Sisu, the low-key nature of the songs will throw off many who are accustomed to Koski’s more punk projects.

Sisu feels like a true labor of love from Darius Koski. It is refreshing to see a songwriter so respected in the punk scene have the balls and talent to branch out in a new, ambitious direction, and to have it sound as authentic and complete as Sisu.