by Jack Ognibene
Alice Glass, former frontwoman of legendary electronic duo Crystal Castles, returns after several years with her debut solo album, PREY//IV. Her last major release, a self-titled EP in 2017, was generally well-received, especially when compared to the music that Crystal Castles was releasing at the time. Glass left Crystal Castles in 2014, and later cited the abuse she received from fellow band member Ethan Kath as the primary reason for her departure. She addresses many of the details of this relationship on this record and, indeed, those make for some extremely compelling and interesting moments that are worth listening to. However, much of the rest of the record is filled with material that is fairly forgettable and surprisingly bare-bones for an artist that is this talented.
Some tracks on this record are genuinely thought-provoking expressions of Glass’s intense feelings, and as such there is a lot of untapped potential being shown. For example, “BABY TEETH” uses vivid, gory imagery within the lyrics to describe exactly how Glass was feeling during her time in Crystal Castles. The house-inspired synths are very reminiscent of Crystal Castles’ early work, and the piercing vocal effects on Glass’s voice couple with those nicely. “SUFFER AND SWALLOW” employs similar lyrical and production tactics, but draws them out longer and plays with them in more interesting ways. Glass’s vocal performance on this track is also probably the best on the record, bringing a certain manic energy to the table that isn’t present on much of the other material. It’s not only abrasive but extremely emotionally potent. Another notable track is “ANIMOSITY,” which, while more subdued instrumentally than the other tracks, presents something much more ethereal that becomes much more intense and explosive during the chorus.
However, much of the record fails to capitalize on the potential that is illustrated with those few tracks. There are several tracks on the album where either the vocal melodies are questionable, or certain lines within the lyrics themselves could have benefitted from some revisions. “PINNED BENEATH LIMBS,” “EVERYBODY ELSE,” and “THE HUNTED” are good examples of this – there are definitely good songs hidden in these tracks somewhere, and they could have been so much better had there been some minor edits here and there to bolster the presentation as a whole. Some of the instrumentals also sounded fairly bare-bones at points, namely on “FAIR GAME,” which otherwise could have been a much more captivating song considering the emotional potency of its lyrics. At other times, the intense moments of songs just feel out of place or improperly implemented, such as on the chorus of “LOVE IS VIOLENCE,” which sounds like a lackluster early 2010s dubstep track.
There are interesting ideas sprinkled throughout this record, but in most cases, they are not explored in a compelling manner or are muddled by other aspects of each track that could have used more work. The album definitely has a few moments where everything comes together, and those moments are genuinely spellbinding, but they are few and far between. Perhaps on a subsequent record, Glass may be able to fine-tune some of the apparent kinks on PREY//IV, but as it stands, this record is mostly unfulfilled potential.