In Brighton, we’ve come to know Queen Zee as an incredibly impressive live outfit. Whether at their own headline show at The Prince Albert (we described it as, “Exciting lyrically, captivating onstage and a remarkable amount of fun”), or supporting huge bands at Concorde 2 such as Dream Wife and Marmozets, they’ve become one of the most exciting, fiery and vibrant live bands in the country. When it comes to their debut album, then, the question was always: could they replicate that sense of urgency and thought-provoking art onto a record?
The answer is a resounding yes. From start to finish, Queen Zee is fast-paced, provocative and, crucially, an important piece of work. Action-packed, high-octane and with something very important to say, Queen Zee could easily stake its claim as one of the most important debut albums of the last few years. An album embracing the oddities of life, and exhibiting and profiling a confident and upbeat example of queerness, the band are set to go down as national icons.
Of course the record carries some important themes, such as ‘Boy’, which tackles gender identity and prejudice. “In my hometown, like new gender who dis? / They clock my throat, staredown my lips / Do they hate me or just want a kiss?” howls Zee in a verse that is as heartbreaking as it is empowering. Yet, at the same time, a lot of Queen Zee is just sheer brilliant rock meets punk music. Opening track ‘Loner’ is like a handcrafted festival singalong for isolated teens, while ‘Idle Crown’ explores a more atmospheric style of glam-rock with an exceptionally brilliant riff and wonderful vocals and backing vocals.
In our interview with Zee last year, the singer told us that, “I’m dedicated to giving a positive example of queerness. It doesn’t hinge on my suffering, I want to show how much joy it brings me.” Ultimately, that’s what Queen Zee offers too. From the tongue-in-cheek album closer ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’, featuring the line: “Don’t you think he looks like Kurt Cobain/I said more like Courtney Love after she went insane”, to ‘Porno’s: “You fuck like a porno movie”, it’s a record that is having fun in subverting expectations and providing thrills and spills with every single note.
Released under their own label, Sasstone Records, the band have done everything on their own terms. The result is one of the finest debut albums of the 21st century. Provocative and challenging, without losing any of its sense of fun, it’s a burst of brilliant punk all the way through. Lead singer Zee often talks about his music-defining moments as an adolescent youth, and Queen Zee has all the ingredients to be just that for this generation. From rock to punk, to pop-punk, and everything in between, Queen Zee is as every debut album should be: riotous, a whole load of fun, with personality seeping through at every moment.