Review by Jenny Bunn
“If a football stadium can’t chant it and jump up and down to it, it’s probably not going to end up on the album.” Zee of Queen Zee says to NME in their recent interview. And looking at the ten tracks of the band’s recent self-titled debut album, there’s no doubt that all ten have achieved this.
The album is fuelled by a concoction of sexuality, anger, punk, catchy pop hooks, party vibes, glam rock, glitter and… more glitter. Vocal diversity is by far one of the band’s strongest points; Zee’s melodies switch effortlessly between clean and distorted angst-ridden Marilyn Manson tones, often backed up by fellow band members to create a diverse vocal entity with a life of its own. It’s also got to be said that the band somehow manages to make gang vocal breakdowns cool again, which only leads to more anthemic sissy fist pumping.
When you strip back the sheeny-shiny veneer of glitter and sex however, there’s a heaviness in the lyrics that explores raw social themes including homophobia, transphobia and feminism. In particular Boy (whose rousing chorus of ‘Just be my boy just be a boy’ has been stuck in my head for the past few days) lyrically explores the expectations of identity and gender in modern society. There’s no shying away from sexuality in the likes of Porno (the ‘you fuck like a porno movie’ motif is hardly subtle), where Zee’s punkier influences hit you hard like a rhinestone-encrusted punch to the gut.
By far my personal favourite track is Victim Age – the album’s heaviest and most angsty track where emotions really come to a head accompanied by a pure 90s grunge riff. The pop vibe is maintained through its catchy shouts of ‘victim, victim!’ with the frantic vocals of someone who’s on the verge of exploding. Penultimate track Anxiety is also one of my favourites, appearing almost like a footnote that’s sneaked itself in underneath all the extroverted glitz and rage. Sitting at just over a minute long, this simple vocals and guitars track is sobering with its opening line “I don’t feel well today”, hinting that maybe there’s maybe something else that we should be taking note of, another voice that we need to be listening to.
If you’re looking for the next thing to add to your feel-good, getting-in-the-mood-to-party playlist then this is it. If you’re looking for the next thing to add to your feel-good, getting-in-the-mood-to-protest playlist, then this is also it.