There’s a difference between having fun and making comedy. The Darkness are doing the former but not the latter. That needs to be mentioned because so many people discount them as a laugh.
Mind you, Lowestoft’s finest haven’t done themselves any favours. Huge success with the debut, Permission To Land, huge arrogance in the overblown, apparently drug-fuelled One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back and internal divisions.
I may be the only person in the world who loves that second album, a folly of monumental proportions but a combo of musical theatre, Rock and self belief, I reckon it’s a baby Bat Out Of Hell—and I’m happy to argue that point.
Since they returned, the Hawkins brothers with the glue that holds them together, bassist Frankie Poullain and several drummers, The Darkness have been pretty smashing from comeback Hot Cakes through stunning Pinewood Smile and slightly tepid Easter Is Cancelled with that controversial Christ breaking the cross cover.
This one, Motorheart, looks less contentious, a man worshipping at the big female deity with a TV screen for a face.
Actually, that is pretty contentious. And then there are the embellishments, penile plants, I think we’ll call it. It’s all there to get us talking and that’s job done.
It can sometimes overshadow the music though. Is that the case here? Well, I’m about to say something I thought I would never say about The Darkness—this album may be a grower.
Why Is That Then?
Well, you may not think so when hearing first track ‘Welcome Ta Glasgae’, which is all in fun with fake accents, bagpipes and toughness baked in.
But this quickly dissipates for ‘It’s Love, Jim’, the sort of song for which the word ‘rollicking’ was invented and which manages to fuse Sex Pistols and Glam Rock guitars with no join at all.
They like a gallop about on ‘Nobody Can See Me Cry’, which you’d expect to have a ballad but instead rushes around to open up for some Queenly guitars in the middle, then sprints off again with a frenetic guitar in pursuit; the video also contains an out of control smoke machine.
Among this bombast though are tracks like ‘Jussie’s Girl’.
Yes, it’s probably a spoof (we don’t use that word enough these days) of the Rick Springfield song and may tell us ‘you’re, making me feel sehr gut’, but it boasts a smoothly mid ’80s AOR chorus and doesn’t try to batter it into submission with Rock guitars.
And listen to the chorus in the title track; yes, it does seem subdued, trying to bring you to it rather than grabbing your lapels.
The best things here are ‘Eastbound’ with it’s tight Status Quo appeal and slightly Southern Rock aspiration and ‘The Power And The Glory Of Love’.
As the title suggests, it’s incredibly florid, almost taking off in the middle, Rufus Tiger Taylor (yep, Roger’s son) beating away in the middle whilst Justin wails as if being flogged with those drum sticks.
This is a grower, this Darkness album. So is Japanese knotweed; this is just as dangerous but infinitely more pleasurable.
You’ll find things you can come back to and enjoy all over again, plus ideas new to them, like the synth jabs in ‘Speed Of The Nite’.
Hawkins told NME, ‘The time has come, the walrus said…to put your fookin pants on your head and rock like Satan is eating your private parts with a pointy fork,’ and this still kicks the doors in, but it says, ‘we’ll clean that up later’ too.
Alternative Press reports Justin saying, ‘The reason why it’s called that name is because when Frankie [Poullain, bassist] listened to it, he described it as sounding like a cross between Motörhead and Heart’—I’ll buy that sound all day.