Out of all the many excellent underground bands I’ve encountered internationally whilst writing for various music websites over the past decade or so, one of my absolute favourites has to be Bitch Queens from Switzerland. They just have that little something extra special about them (coupled with some truly excellent songs) and 10” dildo mic stands aside plus perhaps a few lucky breaks, who knows, they could perhaps transcend their current underground cult following and break through into the mainstream and be huge.
The band’s drummer Harry Darling must already sense this because here with X-Darlings he’s teamed up with Isabella Eder (from powerpop quartet Delilahs) to release a debut album that bears all the hallmarks of a true stadium rock contender. Think Ginger Wildheart’s Hey! Hello! jamming with an in their prime Backyard Babies with just a smidgeon of Muse’s pomp and ceremony added for maximum (special) effect and you certainly won’t be a bazillion B-Movie influenced miles away from what X-Darlings are all about.
Released earlier this month via Lux-Noise Records on LP and digital download ‘Dead Toy Capital Of the World’ contains 9 songs that skip surreptitiously into your psyche prompting the same kind of post-apocalyptic thoughts that bands like Grave Pleasures do in your frightmares, albeit here the X-Darlings give proceedings a slightly lighter pop undercurrent.
Take opener ‘Are You Talking To Me’ for example, this baby conjures up images of Travis Bickle fronting an electro version of The Cramps and believe me it sounds every bit as fantastic as it looks in print. Elsewhere ‘Particle Collison’ manages to twist one of Dregen’s most memorable riffs into a twisting dark pop waltz complete with gloriously camp hand claps that punctuate the verses with a hint of Bitch Queens magic, whilst in album closer ‘Brand New Day’ that aforementioned sense of epic grandeur that has Muse headlining stadiums all around the world is nailed to total perfection.
I must admit that when Dom sent this one over to me to review, he kind of gave me the impression that this was an out and out glam record, but nothing really could be further from the truth on the throbbing ‘In Transit’ a track which actually sounds like the soundtrack to an imaginary electro spaghetti western. Fear not though glam fans because you will love tracks like ‘There For You’ and ‘Snap Out Of It’ and you’d be quite within your rights to simply scream the choruses into your hairbrush like you did back in the day plus with the curiously monikered ‘Laxative’ X-Darlings thankfully prove they are anything but shit at the glam punk game.
‘Dead Toy Capital Of the World’ then is a mighty fine solo/side-project from Harry Darling, it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes into some the more melodic influences of his day job band, and whilst it took me a few plays to get fully into it, I do think that all the best albums in my record collection have always tended to be like that.
It’s one to get on the X-mas list that’s for sure and it’s an interesting precursor to the all-new Bitch Queens album which is due in early 2019
Author: Johnny Hayward.