Self-indulgence is not a concept often associated with modern indie-punk, or indeed punk in general. For a genre often so reliant on the sonic basics hewn out of shoestring budgets, it can make something like that simply unfeasible, but even for bands that have gained their foothold and have the leverage to be able to do more, it can be an approach that plenty are strangely reticent to consider. It would certainly help some of them stand out more for one, and potentially open up the musical landscape to even more musical ideas that could only build from there. It’s something that Prince Daddy & The Hyena seem to be fully aware of on this sophomore album; not only does an album called Cosmic Thrill Seekers effectively demand that exact kind of pomp and circumstance, but given the much-touted fusion of indie-rock, punk, garage-rock and pop that’s gone into this album, it sets up the sort of expectations that most bands of their ilk seem to steer well away from.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that those expectations will be met simply through trial and good will alone, and sadly Cosmic Thrill Seekers is proof of that as an album that has flashes of greatness within it, but could do with some serious tightening and refinement before they’re shown at their full potential. On the whole, Price Daddy & The Hyena are showing signs of breaking away from the indie-punk mould that’s still recognisable within their sound, but this is also a scattered, undercut listen that wants to explore new angles and routes, but seems unsure of how to workably do that. The foundational ideas are there, but there’s an extra push required to make this that much better overall.
Even then though, there’s a definite suspicion that that might’ve been the aim here, particularly in the album’s narrative around vocalist Kory Gregory’s mental health tied into theories of eternal return where the universe will continue to cycle and repeat, and framed around the experiences of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard Of Oz. It’s a dense concept, for sure, and being told through the scattered, rough-hewn pieces that the album comprises itself of does make sense overall. The ragged edges are never hidden, and introducing Gregory’s untrained howl of a voice over the acoustic strumming of I Lost My Life feels like a way to assert that lack of control as a feature rather than a flaw. And indeed, that does come to fruition with tracks like Fuckin A and The Prototype Of The Ultimate Lifeform that infuse their matted indie-punk with the garage-rock hook-craft of the latest Frank Iero album. It’s what elevates individual moments within the entire body of work, and ending things off by having closer Wacky Misadventures cycle back into the opener displays a thematic richness that’s capable of real, genuine potency with a bit more engagement. Sadly that’s not the case though, and while there’s the possibility that what Cosmic Thrill Seekers delivers can be squeezed into the boundaries of the band’s intentions for it, it’s easier to pick out where instances just struggle to connect through. Particularly with tracks like Dream Nails and C’mon & Smoke Me Up that arrive consecutively and each fall below two minutes, it feels like pieces are clicked together without much thought of how that affects the whole, and though that’s not always the case, Prince Daddy & The Hyena can lack a certain degree of subtlety in the structuring and track arrangement that can honestly make an unfortunate amount feel rather forgettable. It’s certainly not bad, with chunky production and a nice raw sensibility throughout, but that doesn’t really help distinguish what should be standing out here, or indeed how the band are utilising each element that reportedly contributes to the body of work as effectively as possible.
And maybe that seems a bit too overly analytical, especially when as an indie-punk and garage-rock album, Cosmic Thrill Seekers ultimately does its job, but there’s a core of inspiration within Prince Daddy & The Hyena that’s shown off in bursts, but can’t coalesce into the fuller form that it should. It’s frustrating, but it also helps highlight where Prince Daddy & The Hyena are in the current indie-punk scene, namely as a band with the skill and potential to take those crucial steps forward, but are just being held back in the way that just one or two more drafts could probably sort out for good. As it stands then, there’s definitely a good amount to like here, but Cosmic Thrill Seekers still feels like the transitional album between the band’s current and next level. Realising the best way to cross that boundary is only going to be beneficial in the long run.
For fans of: Rozwell Kid, Heart Attack Man, McCafferty
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’ by Prince Daddy & The Hyena is out now on Big Scary Monsters.