Those who have always found The Darkness ridiculous aren’t going to change their minds after hearing “Hot Cakes,” the third album from the retro-glam rockers, and first since their sort-of breakup in 2006.
But those who found the band’s spandex, teased hair and serrated guitars deliciously mindless and unabashedly fun will wolf down this return like a plate of, well, you know.
The Darkness – the original foursome of singer Justin Hawkins, his guitarist brother Dan, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham – waste zero time getting to the vapid point on the blues rock stomper “Every Inch of You” that opens the album.
“I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be a vet. Until I heard ‘Communication Breakdown’ on a TDK D90 cassette,” Justin squeals, along with some sexually suggestive lyrics that are quite hilarious.
The beauty of The Darkness is that the band has never taken itself seriously, but manages to create winsome, punch-the-air arena anthems stuffed with earworm choruses (which should go over well during their stint opening for Lady Gaga in Europe).
Just listen to the hook-filled “Everybody Have a Good Time” – complete with cowbell! – or “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” which sounds like Queen and Bryan Adams spawned a rock ‘n’ roll demon child. They’re irresistible roll-down-the-windows singalongs designed for disposability.
The Darkness even covers Radiohead’s “Street Spirit,” which finds Justin’s falsetto ready to shatter glass and Dan’s guitar racing like Mick Mars’ in Motley Crue’s “Livewire” days.
The band can tone it down a notch, too, as on “Forbidden Love,” a purposely overblown power ballad. Lyrics such as “I tell myself that I’ve moved on, but I’m still crazy about you. And just because I’m not allowed doesn’t mean that I don’t want to,” might not be Rock and Roll Hall of Fame worthy, but so what? Not everything needs to be Dylan.
So here’s our advice to enjoying The Darkness: Place tongue firmly in cheek and rawk on.
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