Prayers – “Gothic Summer” (2014)

IMG_1338A few months back I wrote about the cholo goth stylings of San Diego’s Prayers, a group we came across via an appearance they made on Eddie Huang’s TV show “Huang’s World”.  I picked up a couple of their albums from my buddy Mark at FeeLit Records, including the previously reviewed vinyl of 2013’s SD Killwave and their subsequent five-song CD Gothic Summer.

After three months of listening to Prayers, one thing is clear:  I’m addicted to Gothic Summer.  In fact, “Blood on the Blade” is the very best new-to-me song I’ve heard in 2016 so far.

Dave Parley does more with simple and basic beats than just about anyone out there today, layering them with dark keyboards to build the perfect framework for Rafael Reyes to build his lyrics around.  And man, what great lyrics.

Do you know who I am?
Do you know who I am?
Do you know who I am?
I am your brother.
I am your lover.
I am,
The dragon.
I am,
The truth.
I am,
The serpent.
I am,
Perfection.
I was,
Created,
In His image,
In His image,
I was,
Created.
— “Blood on the Blade”

With songs about loss and betrayal, served with an undercurrent of the potential for violence, Prayers have taken darkwave in a different direction, one that is more street than dance club.  Their style shares some of the loneliness, alienation, and self-loathing of the goth scene (I don’t need your guilt trips / I’m my own worst enemy – “Only Death Can Set Me Free”), but infuses it with a desperate confidence at times bordering on arrogance – things you need to survive in an environment with strong ties to gang culture.  There’s some resemblance to hip hop, though this is mostly topical as the vocal delivery is primary sung, not rapped.

God and the devil are both on Gothic Summer, with Reyes and Parley balancing between the forces of good and evil and making you question how much of a gap there truly is between the two.  Maybe they’re not as different as we all think they are.  As Reyes sings, Only death can set me free from my sorrows.

Prayers and Gothic Summer will definitely be making be making appearances on my year-end lists.

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