Prayers Take the Cholo Goth Genre to the Masses With Travis Barker-Produced ‘Young Gods’

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Lately people have been paying a lot of attention to San Diego’s two-man act, Prayers. We caught the darkwave duo’s pummeling live performance at SXSW and have been processing the spectacle pretty much ever since. Both musically and aesthetically, Prayers have struck a chord with their cholo goth approach, and the band’s balls-out approach to defending this unlikely fusion of subcultures has given them a hero-like status among fans.

Following their debut album, SD Killwave, Prayers have released a new seven-song EP titled Young GodsTravis Barker took the band under his wing and has been acting as producer, collaborator, and mentor. With an already growing fan base, this release comes at a time when the band is center stage and it seems that every time they take the stage, they get even bigger.

Right off the bat, on the album’s opener title track, “Young Gods,” an angry Reyes spits out lyrics over Parley’s electro-shocked synth leads and live tracks of Barker’s sledgehammer drumming. The song is about self determination, keeping your circle of friends tight-knit, and basically not giving a fuck about what other people have to say about it.

A recurring theme in Prayers’ music is the plight of a cholo-turned-artist. It all seems coming of age in a way, as Reyes belonged to a gang before he became a full-time artist (on “187” you hear a shout out to the Sherman gang). Whether you agree with him or not, he has been through some shit and he gives his fans glimpses of it in his lyrics and on social media.

On “Chtnonian,” featuring Skinhead Rob, again we are up against a synth/drum combo as the backdrop for a whole lot of angry screaming. Skinhead Rob’s contribution breathes some fresh air into the track. His brash vocal style, piled with Barker’s frantic drumming, enhance what would have otherwise sounded like any other Prayers song.

With Barker helming production, the songs sound massive, with a solid rhythmic backbone. But it also dimmed down the cold wave arrangements that many considered the signature Prayers sound. Now that Young Gods is out, who knows what new collaborations will come their way and what musical directions they’ll take. If you’re a fan of their previous work, you may feel like there’s a need for nuance in the arrangements. With that said, the lyrics and the darker undercurrents in Reyes’ writing carry most of the weight, and in the end Young Gods manages to come out on top.