Queen Meanie Puss -- The Darkling (EP)
Siltbreeze Records, 1993
I picked up The Darkling a few weeks ago at a nearby record store that was holding a half-off all vinyl sale for Black Friday, but I hadn't really listened to it much until very recently. While doing a little background research on the band for this write-up, I was simultaneously amused by and chagrined at the discovery that a significant amount of the attention given to the band comes in the form of academic footnotes mentioning their name as part of a trend among female punk and alternative groups to "name themselves in response to a ubiquitous and negative vocabulary for the female body" (Gottleib and Wald) by using "language traditionally forbidden to girls"(see Julia German's entry on "Punk Culture" in Girl Culture). What chagrins me, of course, is not the fact that, for a band with only a handful of out-of-print releases to their name, Queen Meanie Puss appears (quite understandably) in academic discussions of cultural and gender studies, but rather the fact that not enough music people mention what is, ultimately, a really cool band.
The Darkling is one of those records that, had it been released a decade or so earlier, it would have been regarded as groundbreaking. As it stands, I suspect most listeners will hear something that reminds them of Sonic Youth. And, truthfully, The Darkling does sound a bit like what I would imagine would happen if, in a cartoony bit of slapstick, a riot grrl chased down someone making a futile attempt to sing like Nico and tried to shut her up by clapping her between giant copies of Confusion is Sex and EVOL.
That said, The Darkling, for all the accusations of derivativeness I imagine could be aimed at it, is a really good bit of moody post-punk noise. Shifting from atonal dissonance to surprisingly beautiful melody, the guitar work buttresses an equally wide-ranging vocal performance. From the plaintive moaning on the opening "Here & Gone Again" to the roiling, boiling fury on the seething titular track (seriously, they'd frighten the hell out of most death metal bands), Queen Meanie Puss scores a solid punch to the gut with this one. And you thought New Zealand had no music scene...
Sobriquet Grade: 82 (B-).