Straight from London, U.K. comes James Brown a.k.a. HCK9 with “Pretty Thing“, a new single doused in heavy horror-inspired lyrics and instrumentation. Produced by Dustin Dooley, it tells a tale of masks, double personalities and false images, from the perspective of a victim that is lured by a Jekyll-Hyde figure. Can we escape from their trap, or did we fall on it willingly?
Overall, “Pretty Thing” helps recall the alt-rock scene from the late 2000s, early 2010s, especially the emo and horrorcore scenes. However, HCK9’s style offers the range and complexity that certain acts from those times lacked. In that way, he shows potential of surpasing those of the past and going beyond them. It is a track inspired by the artist’s favourite films and series such as 28 Days Later, Casino Royale, The Matrix and Tokyo Ghoul:
“I wanted to give the listener a sense of feeling like they were the protagonist in a movie where everything had come to an end” -HCK9
HCK9’s instrumentation is based on heavy bass and hard drums, alongside ghostly strings. The track mirrors the story it tells by luring us, the listeners. It starts speaking to us softly with muted vocals, strings and guitars. The lyrics warn us of the illusions we have decieved ourselves in believing, while slowly revealing the danger we are facing. HCK9’s vocals reflect an ironic, but almost mockingly sweet, tone. We begin to suspect that maybe someting is not right. The mask comes completely off in the chorus, and we are met by “Pretty Thing”‘s full force: screaming guitars, high strings. The lyrics and the vocals reveal their true intentions. The track plays with this duality: when we forget about the truth HCK9’s reminds us again and again more until we reach the final chords of the song. Once the track is over, we feel the need to hear it again in order to let ourselves be lured once again.
With “Pretty Thing” HCK9 has lured us into a trap. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t been a joy falling into it. If it means that he will continue releasing tracks like “Pretty Thing”, maybe it is worth it to stay a little while longer…
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