The Anti-Queens Up the Ante on 'Disenchanted'

BY Oliver CrookPublished May 16, 2024


The Anti-Queens understand punk. Not just because they've been a Toronto underground mainstay for over a decade, or because their 2019 self-titled debut was one of the genre's most exciting releases in years. Rather, their entire body of work up to this point — including their fabled, raucous live performances — is steeped in the genre's history and essence. Their look is Sex Pistols, their sound is Nimrod, and their attitude is that of a socially conscious Courtney Love.

As interested in singing songs about one-night stands as they are about misogynistic institutions, they're a band who continually challenge listener expectations. Lead singer Emily Bones has a snarl that'll take paint off the walls, dripping in a vitriol that makes even the toughest of lyrical enemies quiver. Add in a two-guitar approach that pushes distortion pedals to a Nirvana-like level and a drummer who pounds her kit like she hates drum skins, and it's a recipe that's as classic as it gets.

Following the band's trajectory to date — Disenchanted very much included — feels like witnessing basement rockers evolve into Joan Jett. An ire-drenched album dripping in righteous rage and just enough melody to make it ideal for screaming at the top of your lungs, Disenchanted captures everything that makes the Anti-Queens so exciting.

"Owe U Shit" sees them ramp up the BPM and take aim at a former friend. It's classic Anti-Queens fare: A relatable, anonymous enemy, a three-chord sequence and a repeatable chorus. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it has all the qualities of a great punk song. "Bulldozer" is the same recipe with a similar result, a hardscrabble offering that sees the addition of a bridge, something not usually found in their previous work. Both of these songs seem destined to become live faves.

The addition of bridges isn't the only growth: "Love's Heavy Burden" and "Dirty Girl" see the band shift into a slower gear, providing some gentler moments that allow you to breathe without fully slamming the brake pedal. While not quite MTV Unplugged, it is a sonic changeup from a band whose previous work has been entirely relentless.

However, when combined, these changes can sometimes lead the album into the punk pitfall of flabbiness: Disenchanted  is 13 minutes longer than their debut LP, despite only adding three songs. Gone are the scrappy blast throughs, replaced with more structured, polished and carefully crafted songs. For a band who've never wasted a second, Disenchanted trades in the raw edginess of earlier Anti-Queen offerings, dragging occasionally over its longer runtime.

Disenchanted is a step forward for the band, showcasing a more thoughtful side that lines up more with thoughtful, incandescent fury of L7 and Hole than their Teenage Bottlerocket-style debut. While there are slight growing pains, it's an album that showcases not just their punk chops but their exciting potential. 


Latest Coverage