While the title ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’ might elicit visions of acid-trippin’ psych-rockers on a quest for the meaning of life, the truth is much more grounded.
A reflection of vocalist Kory Gregory’s cyclical mental health and OCD, it is instead a grungy, indie-rock soap-opera that is split into three parts. Bizarrely, it also riffs off The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (so perhaps not so grounded after all), with each act – the Heart, the Brain, and the Roar – symbolic of Dorothy’s three companions in L Frank Baum’s novel.
It’s beautifully-paced stuff too – certainly warranting comparisons to Titus Andronicus’ masterpiece ‘The Monitor’ – and for all the complicated themes and musical chaos, nothing’s left to chance, and everything has space to breathe.
The one-two of opener ‘I Lost My Life’ – complete with some trademark throat-shredding vocals by Gregory – and ‘Lauren (Track 2)’ is just wonderful, the former a ballad of sorts that hints at the carnage to follow, the latter a riotous mishmash of woozy surf-pop and pool-party punk rock. From there, ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’ is a further 12 tracks of near-breathless punk rock that feels so organic it exists as a living, breathing mass of energy.
When it does momentarily pause – the twisted lullaby of ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers Forever’ and closing number ‘Wacky Misadventures of the Passenger’ are great examples of how Prince Daddy play with structure and narrative – the tension and terror is never far from the surface, waiting to explode into a kaleidoscope of emotions and sounds. At the centre of this is Gregory’s edge-of-the-precipice vocals, strained and exhausted and barely masking the anxiety. Occasionally Prince Daddy play things with a straight bat, like on the uncomplicated indie-rock of ‘The Prototype of the Ultimate Lifeform’, and when they do, they find musical nirvana.
While this means there’s a lot going on – and there’s certainly a lot to digest – ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’ captures the drama perfectly. It’s undoubtedly a big stylistic step up from frenetic debut ‘I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving’ and, when combined with the equally stellar recent efforts by best buds Mom Jeans, Graduating Life and Retirement Party, serves as the vanguard for an exciting new generation of indie-punk acts.