Review Summary: orbiting the planets, looping the thoughts
Act 1, The Heart / Passenger (tracks 1-5): Connor
I Thought You Didn't Even Like Leaving
begins and ends nearly the same, linking the lyrics back to the album's title with callbacks to previous songs and themes. Prince Daddy & the Hyena have always been concerned with the cyclical nature of things, whether it's relationships that push and pull, or thought patterns that loop and swirl around one's head. It's no wonder their newest album Cosmic Thrill Seekers
relates to an acid trip as the drug has the tendency to link things together in your brain in a confusing circle, producing connections and realizations that have never been made before. Kory opens things up by explaining this on the 'An Introduction to the Album'-eque acoustic to garage-fueled jam, detailing the lingering after-effects of his trip to whoever will listen. The first act, entitled The Heart
, is genuinely a pathos-driven outcry, appealing to anyone who shares his issues with anxiety and how it suppresses his own good intentions. The band seems to follow this feeling as well, often replacing the weed-fueled uptempo distortion with swelling melodies that explode into anthemic climaxes and shrink back into plucked whimpered confessions.
Lyrically in 'Dialogue' Kory links his own story to the Wizard of Oz, relating the dream-like state of his own psyche to Dorothy's trip of an adventure. It's a healthy reminder that he will eventually "wake up" from the madness, forever changed by the scarring experience yet with the hope the effects will soon fade. The xylophone driven melody contrasted with Kory' smoke-ridden vocals sets a pretty good example for the rest of the album. While lyrically it's a massive strive forward in themes and content, the music takes a slightly more whimsical turn that often favors these cutesy moments seen in the aforementioned track. View it as a lyrical soundtrack of sorts; each twist and turn evokes tension and surprises across the entirety of Kory's story in the most emo-punk way imaginable.
Act 2, The Brain / Driver (tracks 6-9): Reece
If each act is a particular “lunar phase” of Kory’s mental state, then it’s fitting that The Brain
tears the creative limits of the typical Prince Daddy aesthetic wide open. The band takes a distinct pleasure in running the gamut from disco hi-hats to acoustic balladry to almost-Sum-41 plagiarisms to horn sections
of all things - occasionally all in the same two-and-a-half minute stretch. All the same, the anthemic distortion of “Slip” and subtly proficient riffs of “Prototype of the Ultimate Lifeform” graft these disparate elements to the strong musical backbone the band has crafted over the years. It’s haphazard and messy yet perfectly cohesive all at once, the equivalent of a run-on sentence running too long, barely sustaining its form by the skin of its teeth, a microcosm of the album as a whole.
Yet what's most admirable about that is its thematic consistency with Kory’s depiction of his mind’s recesses, transparent without being cloying and honest without any pandering. His struggles lay in minute social interactions - a misread social situation here, a regretful memory there - but in the context of utter isolation, it’s a matter of life and death. Nestled between the heart and the roar is a sliver of oblivion, a sly whisper of “maybe it’s time the planets decide” from a dark passenger, wresting agency at any opportunity. In another life, “Ursula Merger” and its abrupt cut-out from distorted guitars would signal a depressing end. Here, even without the paradoxically upbeat emo-punk that surrounds it, it’s a foundation to rise - a proverbial rock bottom that can only imply a rocket back up to the cosmos.
Act 3, The Roar / Random Passerby (tracks 10-14): Ian
Whenever I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving
was written, Prince Daddy and The Hyena were nobodies, and now with their small (but skyrocketing), and absolutely relentless cult following, they’ve managed to take the emotions on their sleeves, instrumentation, and songwriting all to the next level with Cosmic Thrill Seekers
. Tracks like “Trying Times,” along with what might be their best song, closer “Wacky Misadventures of The Passenger” feature the band’s evolution on full display. With longer and more ambitious instrumentation, coupled with Kory’s complimentary, but (acquired) harshly delivered vocal melodies, the band still feels as if they’re playing their hearts out like it’s the last record that’ll ever be made. The songwriting from Kory is also way more of a brutally honest retake of the themes found on their first record, with every thought and anxiety being paced and executed on a much more grandiose scale than they’ve ever attempted before. To bring the closer back up, “Wacky Misadventures…,” there’s definitely a lyric that stands out as an album mantra, similarly to the closing lines of their debut record. It’s the desperate scream of ”There’s so much to a moment // It’s hard to not get distracted,”
that seems simple at the surface, but the inner anxiety of living on with mental illness really does respect the relatability and openness of mental health that made I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving
such a refreshing debut to begin with. Now with Cosmic Thrill Seekers
, Prince Daddy and The Hyena have perfected their already distinctly depressive power pop-punk sound, and the effort put into every single intricacy of the record shows that this band has more potential than ever previously conceived.