Some lazy Brits will judge Switzerland based solely on Toblerone, army knives and impartiality. Those ignorant so-and-sos have clearly never come across Bitch Queens; a band of natural punk rock treasures from Basel. It’s album number four for these transgressors of sleaze and boy oh boy, unloosen your leather jock strap, it’s one hell of a death punk ride.
The title track opens the show with a guitar, kick drum and vocal intro, and we’re immediately invited to chant along. As soon as the needle hits the wax you’re virtually transported to a sweaty hellhole. Things reek of crowd participation right from the get-go and those punk rock guns are ablaze, my downtrodden friends. It’s glitter mixed with politics on Vote for Pedro. I for one would love to see Napoleon Dynamite throw some shapes to this ripper. It’s all fuck this and fuck that, culminating in “fuck everybody.” The all-to-brief middle eight “la-la-la-las” are infectious. More, more!
When Süperboy gets going it’s Bitch Queens at their most melodic, and dare I say, most laid back. Don’t let that deter you, as to my bruised 40 year old ears this track is an album highlight. My God, it’s catchier than herpes down the docks.
Now, I don’t know Danny but it would seem that everyone wants a piece of him. Especially Danny is the foursome at their most Turbonegro with the pre-chorus and chorus lending itself to the Apocalypse Dudes era. The call is “everybody from your daughter to your granny is in love with Danny.” From another band this would sound cheesy, but from these Queens it makes perfect party sense. Personally, I think the thing that makes Bitch Queens so irrestiable is their songwriting knack to put all the “oohs” in all the right places. Just see Sucker for the Blues with its hook from hell. Remember, it’s all about the hook, man. Negative Heaven follows and it’s sleazy punk a-go-go.
When Did I Die? is all rock ‘n’ roll guitar and it would certainly give Austin Rocket a run for his money. In fact, the parallels between the The Hip Priests and Bitch Queens are evident. Yes, they’re old touring buddies but both bands are now, more than ever, sucking on the same proverbial tit. It would also seem that both are favouring stabs at a political agenda to offset the debauchery. Through the Bitch Queen’s lyric sheet, and putting the innuendo to one side for a moment, the band shout about democracy, the system, Swiss diplomats and the middle classes. This is a big thumbs up in my book.
More large, tamed (but non less fierce) melodic chords abound on the singalong that is On and On. Double-time drums and urgent riffage feature on All My Money, which is a straight ahead death punk tune with little deviation. Never Say Never boasts a “lets start a riot” refrain before we’re hit with the 1 min and 27 second blast that is Paso (The Nini Anthem). It took some delving and it turns out this is a cover of a track by Spanish DJ Sak Noel. I have it on good authority that Bitch Queens heard it in a London nightclub and just had to cover it. Never mind an album closer, this could be a setlist opener with a big P-A-R-T-Y. Dig out the original if you must but mind your lugholes, now.
I get the feeling this is the album that modern day Backyard Babies wish they’d wrote. Sure, this year’s Sliver and Gold had its moments, but for sheer consistency, City of Class hits the ball head and shoulders above their contemporaries. With their tongues firmly in their cheeks, it could also be argued that Bitch Queens are more Turbonegro than current Turbonegro. It’s a mystery how Bitch Queens aren’t bigger than they are. They’ve earned their stripes and through gritty hard work and determination they deserve a larger stage. One thing’s for sure, if this sleaze punk opus isn’t ranking highly on those end of year lists, then the world really is fucked. Ginge Knievil