Working hard to make a name for themselves with a busy touring schedule and 2018’s impressive debut album ‘Once More With Feeling’, Prey Drive are a promising prospect, to say the least. With that debut accumulating over 350,000 spins on Spotify alone, their potential hasn’t been ignored. ‘Neon God’ marks the first release through the band’s new label Lockjaw Records. It’s an exciting time for the Norwich-based four-piece, and ‘Neon God’ proves just how ready this band are to take the next step forward in their career.

Prey Drive open with a statement of bold intent through ‘Socrates’. The riff at the start of the record’s second single is loud enough to ensure that anyone listening is, at the very least, nodding their heads along from the off. Once locked in, what follows is a showcase of everything that this band does best. Vocalist Bradley Smith meanders through verses lavished with delicate guitar work from Steve Larke-Mejia. All the while, Paul Gaul on bass and Christian Kett on drums maintain solid foundations that uphold the determined pulse instigated at the very start of the EP. This is the Prey Drive blueprint – seemingly effortless transitions between big riffs, elegant verses and soaring choruses.

Lead single ‘O.M.G’ continues the dynamic that ‘Socrates’ established, but features the best chorus on the EP, making it clear as to why the band elected it as the first teaser for the record. ‘Human Furniture’ only serves to further emphasise the point that Prey Drive are moving from strength to strength. It’s the vocal melodies in the verses that particularly stand out – they are gentle enough to effectively juxtapose the more aggressive moments on ‘Neon God’, highlighting the band’s proficiency in shifting through the gears at will.

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The EP’s titular track and thematic centrepiece pays homage to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’, from which Smith repurposes the iconic folk-rock duo’s original message from 1965 and applies it to this modern era. The 1960s prompted a social commentary from Simon and Garfunkel on the increasingly invasive way that advertisers were able to reach audiences through televisions, rendering them somewhat subservient to the so-called “Neon God” sitting in their own living rooms.

Smith argues that this message is even more pertinent today. Reliance on technology has become an irrefutable reality. The dangers, according to Smith, lie in the perceptively perfect lifestyles displayed by corporations and influencers that present often unrealistic ideals that people either constantly compare themselves to or find themselves living vicariously through a screen. Moreover, lyrics such as “these city lights burn you every time” also warn of the illusory enticement that the big city can present. It’s another way that the “Neon God” in question perpetuates a mentality amongst the masses that a lifestyle integrated amongst technology, capitalism and celebrity is the ideal that we should be aspiring to – a notion that Prey Drive skillfully challenge throughout this EP.

 

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Sonically, ‘Neon God’ is the most diverse piece with finger-tapping from Larke-Mejia bursting into the foreground at points with Smith battling over the top with viscerally shouted vocals. That said, the big chorus and all other melodic fundamentals remain present and are continued in the EP’s closer ‘Glitch’. It’s more of the same and, after the exciting variance presented in the previous track, the last song on offer does feel a little flatter than the rest. That said, returning to the archetypal sound that this band is so capable of consistently delivering shows a maturity in their desire to deliver a complete and comprehensive body of work.

In total, ‘Neon God’ demonstrates just how much Prey Drive have evolved since the release of ‘Once More with Feeling’. Aside from the impressive production quality of this EP, the band’s songwriting has a newfound air of confidence and sophistication. A strong and expertly delivered message is crucial to the overall well-rounded feel of this record. This is a sign of things to come from Prey Drive, and the future looks very bright indeed.

AARON JACKSON

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