Back in the Dark

Darknessnew_1Everyone’s favorite histrionic rawk band, The Darkness, are back with another album of thinly-veiled double-entendres, Marshall stacks, Les Pauls, catsuits, plentiful and ridiculous guitar solos, high pitched man singing and over-the-top music videos. Their first album, 2003’s Permission to Land, was just about perfect. Some couldn’t get past Justin Hawkin’s balls-in-a-vice voice, but nearly every song could have been released as a single — the hooks were undeniable. Tongue-in-cheek (cheek of your choice, too), definitely, but there seemed little doubt that they loved the music they were playing.

And they could pull it off live too. The Darkness’ September 18, 2003 show at Bowery Ballroom was something else. I wrote this the next day…

As Hurricane Isabelle roared into Manhattan, so did The Darkness –
leaving jaded New Yorkers thunderstruck like the wreckage of a
shoddily-built beach house. They played Bowery Ballroom, a smallish
club (600 capacity). I would say at least half the audience was
guest-listed industry-types, the kind who watch most shows with
crossed arms, if they pay attention at all. They paid attention to
the Darkness. By the second song, Justin Hawkins had the entire crowd doing the
Overhead Handclap. You just don’t see that happen here. At one point,
Justin said to the crowd, "I wanna see some thumbs!" Everyone
complied. I think what impressed me the most was the musicianship.
They could actually play all those twin solos. It got a bit silly during the last song as Justin climbed onto
a roadie’s shoulders and played a solo while being carried around the
audience. But, at that point, what else could he have done?

Darknesslogo_1So how do you follow-up an album that most people considered to be a one-shot joke? Make one that’s even bigger, louder and more ridiculous. So Hawkins promises, at least, with One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back, due November 29. The album’s producer is Roy Thomas Baker, who has worked with T. Rex, Cheap Trick, Journey and , most, importantly twiddled the knobs on Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody." The first single — One Way Ticket‘s title cut — is available to stream on their Myspace page. You get loads of cowbell, coke-snorting sound effects (no Kate jokes, please), a sitar solo (!), phaser effects out the wazoo, and a massive, harmony-drenched chorus. Maybe a little less catchy than I was hoping for.

Here’s One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back track list…

  1. One Way Ticket
  2. Knockers
  3. Is It Just Me?
  4. Dinner Lady Arms
  5. Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time
  6. Hazel Eyes
  7. Bald
  8. Girlfriend
  9. English Country Garden
  10. Blind Man

It’s just not gonna be the same without Frankie, though. He was the coolest.

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