Prince Daddy & The Hyena – ‘Prince Daddy & The Hyena’

By Sean Reid

It’s been proven over the course of history that death is inevitable, so it’s no surprise we all naturally fear the end of our lives. It’s a notion that Kory Gregory of Prince Daddy & The Hyena feels deeply. While writing what would become the band’s third album, he spent a month in a psychiatric hospital and then, in a twisted turn of events, Gregory and the rest of the band cheated death after sliding off the road in a blizzard, crashing into a snowplough.

Unsurprisingly, since those events of November 2018, Gregory’s fear of death has become all-consuming. This eponymous full-length is considered cathartic, lyrically diving deep into the darkness. Stylistically ‘PD&TH’ loosely continues the conceptualised trend that 2019’s ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’ contained, their sound slightly sticking to the scrappy emo grunge origins, yet seeing them expand into interesting and previously unexplored areas. Take ‘Curly Q’ for example; shimmering with downbeat acoustics and soft percussion, it segues into a stirring guitar solo and the result is a poignant halfway point on ‘PD&TH’.

For the most part, Prince Daddy & The Hyena thread together songs almost faultlessly. Early on, tracks such as ‘A Random Exercise in Impermanence’, ‘Jesus Fucking Christ’, and the twinkly and folky ‘Something Special’ lyrically capture the looming shadow of death. Furthermore, a character called ‘The Collector’ pops up throughout the record, seemingly chasing Gregory to meet his inevitable end. ‘Hollow, As You Figured’ is a significant example of this. “Here he comes now / The shape tucked in the background / Prepping for what he might say,” sings Kory. Accompanied by swirling, gentle instrumentation, it erupts with density and a paranoia-induced guitar solo.

Elsewhere, ‘Keep Up That Talk’ embraces a funky tempo yet maintains the lyrical paranoia that appears throughout the album. ‘In Just One Piece’ chugs along in its grunge rock skin and ‘Discount Assisted Living’ provides a tender, piano-laden interlude. Together, to an extent, they showcase Gregory and company’s range, something which is amplified on the eight-minute long ‘Black Mold’. Serving as a departure from the two to four-minute numbers that precede it, the penultimate track gently coasts along, allowing Gregory’s bitter words to take centre stage. Its narrative sees him confront ‘The Collector’ who tries to reassure Kory, but he doesn’t believe him. The gradual build and pacing of the track are executed brilliantly, lyrically compelling the listener.

Its finale gives the impression that Gregory is at peace with the inevitability of death, reflecting on his stay in a psychiatric hospital. “So we tore apart the bedroom, from bottom to top, think it helped me get to know you”, he sings against a soft acoustic background. While it serves as a suitable epilogue for the album’s narrative, musically it comes off as an afterthought.

Collectively, Prince Daddy & The Hyena have crafted another intriguing record that neatly evolves their sound, tying it with a dark, compelling narrative. There’s a synergy that allows you to easily digest this self-titled effort, revealing its layers track-by-track. As for the lead songwriter Gregory, he shows himself to be both vulnerable and confrontational. Throughout he cleverly captures the extremely dark mindset one goes through when obsessed with dying, using the character of ‘The Collector’ as a metaphor for an overbearing shadow chasing him down.

Overall these 13 songs are lyrically complex, yet are musically digestible and interesting. This allows new and old listeners of Prince Daddy & The Hyena to appreciate this self-titled effort with each listen.

SÊAN REID

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