While touring with their respective bands in 2016, Betsy Wright of Ex Hex and Laura King of Flesh Wounds created their own brand of nostalgic rock when they formed Bat Fangs. The duo’s self-titled 2018 debut was an exciting slice of hardened power pop, incorporating elements from their other bands, mostly evidently Ex Hex.
Returning in 2021 with their latest, Queen Of My World, Bat Fangs haven’t adjusted the formula too much, but they assuredly go full throttle on the 80s hair metal influence. Wright and King’s adoration for the genre is crystal, and while their debut kept it closer to their comfort zones, Queen of My World kicks that shit to the curb.
Opening track “Action” acts as a bridge between their less nostalgia-tinged debut and their full-on homage. It sets the tone for an album harboring fewer of the fuzzy guitars and more of their stadium-primed jams. They’ve also found their inner Pat Benatar, as evidenced on single “Talk Tough”, which could be a spiritual successor to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, if not for the modern production messiness.
Vancouver’s Japandroids are well known for their ability to make a two-piece sound like a five-piece, and Bat Fangs are similarly challenging that notion through their massive sound. It’s the type of swamp rock that fills the room with sweat drenched shirts and intoxicated energy. The riffage on “Into the Water” from Wright is ready to take the center stage of any headline tour. They write hooky and energetic ragers but still play with aesthetic on “Psychic Eye” where they veer a little Guns ‘N Roses and opt for epic guitar solos instead of traditional song structures
The progressive themes Bat Fangs are transmitting via their own brand of cock-rock is clearly intentional. It’s a clever juxtaposition that they use throughout Queen of My World.
Most of Queen of My World follows a similar path, lots of anthemic howling, countless licks and slaps, all while gasoline courses through Wright and King’s veins. It’s the title track that doubles as the most jarring but also most lovable moment, with “whoa”s akin to Joan Jett & the Blackhearts classic romper “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” and the gnarly riffs that hallmarked Jett’s work with The Runaways.
Bat Fangs strive to be just like those iconic rock forebears and across the album they check every box. Queen of My World plays like love letter to the 80s hair metal period; Wright and King are clearly having tons of fun with this band and with this record, and it’s infectious.