Queen Adreena

Drink Me

/rough trade; 2002/




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Drink Me is Queen Adreena’s second album. Guitarist Crispin Gray and vocalist Katie Jane Garside used to play in brilliant schizophrenic noisy grunge band named Daisy Chainsaw. They were misunderstood by many reviewers who just saw a drug-addict wearing female outfits in Crispin and characters coming from the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the others. They only released one impressive album because KJ Garside left and was replaced on the second one by another singer who was not as good and not as insane as KJG who was described as an hybrid between Lydia Lunch and Nina Hagen (especially on stage). The second one contains some great songs though but did not reach the schizophrenia of Eleventeen whose surrealist sleeve represents the unhealthy noise aspect that is pervasive throughout all the songs, be they visceral speedy deliveries, slow-moving twisted psychedelic atmosphere, shambolic catharsis or even twisted acoustic ballads.

Daisy Chainsaw used to write roughly two kinds of songs and so does Queen Adreena. On the one hand, urgent, noisy, fast and visceral punk songs in which KJG yells, shrieks and gives the impression of scarcely waking up from a terrible nightmare; and on the other hand, slow, poisonous atmospheric songs in which KJG’s unhealthy voice spreads its wings of depression. If you’ve never heard her voice, try to imagine Bjork performing ‘Army of Me’ completely stoned and trying to imitate Lydia Lunch. Add a punctual raucous tone due to helium inhaling and alcohol abuse, well then you might have an idea of what her voice sounds like…

If Queen Adreena’s first album Taxidermy benefited from a good-looking sleeve, it never found the right balance between the two kinds of songs Crispin Gray composes, on the contrary its successor is sometimes reminiscent of Daisy Chainsaw’s astonishing debut in 1992. Indolent passages only reached their dreary, unwholesome aspect thanks to the sharpness of the other ones in Daisy Chainsaw and while Taxidermy lingers on atmospheric tracks and becomes dull in the long run, violent fast urgent noisy songs prevail over slower ones in Drink Me. Thus, the gruesome schizophrenia which characterized Daisy Chainsaw and which is cruelly lacking in Taxidermy is back and it brings into relief KJG’s unique voice.

Recording techniques having improved since the beginning of the 90’s, QA benefits from a thicker sound than DC’s. They have surprisingly added plain brutality to the expected noisy aspect in some songs. ‘Under a Floodboard World’ easily reminds one of NIN but KJG’s outbursts alternating with out of breath singing illuminate the song. ‘Pretty Like Drugs’ is half-way between Daisy chainsaw and Jesus Lizard. Some riffs sound metal (which might be a good after-effect of nu-metal: ‘Kitty collar tight’). When she does not yell, KJG finds back her twisted changing child-like voice in nonchalant songs that convey insanity and malaise again (‘Sleeping Pill’ industrial experiment, ‘Desert Lullaby’ sounds like an unhealthy nightmare while ‘My Silent Undoing’ is a strange lullaby).

Let’s forget Taxidermy’s mishap, Drink Me is Crispin Gray and Katie Jane Garside’s true come back despite a couple of superfluous songs. If there is no hit such as ‘Love Your Money’, ‘Siamese Almeida’ is an impressive visceral and noisy should-be single played at full throttle. ‘For I am the Way’ ends the album on a dubious impression of awakening. Daisy Chainsaw has been one of the bands which really epitomize the word schizophrenia through their music; Queen Adreena might be taking over things where DC left them.


/june 15th 2003/