Prince Daddy & the Hyena Credit: Joey Tobin

Prince Daddy & the Hyena’s second album, June’s Cosmic Thrill Seekers, explores a twentysomething’s recovery from an acid trip in a three-part framework drawn in part from The Wizard of Oz. Kory Gregory, who fronts the Albany emo band, told The Fader that he took inspiration for the ambitious record from concept albums and rock operas such as My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, Titus Andronicus’s The Monitor, and Green Day’s American Idiot. Underground emo and pop punk are no strangers to grand, well-crafted gestures either, and Prince Daddy’s new LP fits comfortably alongside contemporary classics from those scenes: the Hotelier’s expansive, life-affirming Goodness, Foxing’s go-for-broke pop monument Nearer My God, nearly everything the World Is a Beautiful Place has ever released, and even Oso Oso’s small-town survey The Yunahon Mixtape. Prince Daddy distinguish themselves among this company by partaking of an unusual recent variation in the sound of underground emo—a hook-centric, often goofy take sometimes called “sparklepunk.” The band’s sloppily euphoric style might be the best sonic approach to an album about an acid trip—Gregory started writing the material about four years ago, after an odd LSD experience of his own. Prince Daddy have grown more creative with their songwriting since their first record, 2016’s I Thought You Didn’t Even Like Leaving, and have clearly worked to make every second of Cosmic Thrill Seekers feel intentional. On their debut, they performed so roughly they sometimes sounded like they were about to flail themselves to pieces, but even during the hairiest parts of the new album they’re obviously in control. Whether you’re up for a metaphor-heavy story of a 90s baby returning from an altered state or you just want sick, compact pop-punk riffs, Cosmic Thrill Seekers delivers in spades. On “Breather”, when the call-and-response guitars drop into unison just as Gregory leaps from throaty howls to a honeyed falsetto, Prince Daddy & the Hyena sound capable of even more profound journeys.   v