Queen’s Teeth is a gritty, alternative trio comprising of Georgina McLeod (guitar/vocals), Maria Poulos (guitar), Ruth Gagliano (bass) and Luke Scriven (drums). This powerhouse of noise formed in 2012 when McLeod boldly flew halfway across the world (from England to Chicago) in order to join Poulos and Gagliano.
Their release Meganeura opens with “Underneath Underground.” A distorted guitar riff bends and buzzes as it emerges from silence, followed by a bass rhythm and beat which synchronizes perfectly and offers the first taste of what this band has to offer - a sound, as promised, which emulates much of ‘90s grunge/alt-rock and its strengths.
But it is “Cocktails and Pillows” which molds the album into a new sound; one driven by Scriven’s controlled, static drumming and atmospheric melodies which fluctuate unexpectedly between crisp dream-pop and dark twists. This focused sound comes to fruition during “Way Love Goes.” The opening bass rhythm begins almost as if it were a slowed rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” but progresses into soothing bliss. Punchy drum beats and sliding guitars overlap the jagged bass beneath to create an ethereal cacophony of sound. Poulos and Gagliano produce high-pitched backing vocals which beautifully support McLeod during the choruses. Then, without warning, the crunch of guitars and tortured wailing punctuates this track’s chaotic finale. One is forced to listen emotively, not passively. Perhaps the build could have been a little more gradual and suspenseful, but it would be unfair to ignore that this is an idea the band plays with later. “Way Love Goes” is a solid piece, nonetheless.
“Devil” whilst repeating many of the styles present within the first half of the album, contains an infectious chorus - one littered with ear worms in the form of rapid-paced, distorted guitar arpeggios. It is a delicious piece of ear candy for those who adore fine details in music.
“In The Coffin” is another brilliant example of Queen’s Teeth harnessing their true ability. It is the first track on the album which brims with consistent energy. Influences from ‘90s classics, such as The Breeders first become apparent here with McLeod sounding remarkably similar to Kim Deal at times. Again, this is no bad thing, because it allows the track to flourish. Queen’s Teeth are no copycats, as their sound traverses multiple genres.
Evidence of this stylistic variation comes in the form of “Mother Nature,” which opens with gothic vocals faintly reminiscent of Evanescence. Pulsating drums form an uneasy sense of tension, which is admittedly a sound tinkered with throughout the LP, but the fact is that everything else simply works here. The vocals tear into the upper reaches of McLeod’s abilities and the catchy explosion of a chorus begs repeated listens. This is undisputedly the best track on the album.
“Adore You” and “Bedtime” are two exact descriptions for the closing tracks of Meganeura. The former swoops and swirls around pop melodies and passionate lyrics, ripping the album from the depths of its prior darkness. But the latter is the stronger of the two songs and it offers satisfying closure. “Bedtime” begins with peaceful introspection, before slowly turning itself inside out during its eruption into a wall of sound - one painted with fuzzy guitar melodies and human howls that seep into the empty space surrounding it all.
Queen’s Teeth is an apt name for a band which bites hard when they want to. But it is when they consistently dance between delicate and guttural vocals that they play on their strengths and allow their songs to build into something even greater.
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