Permission To Land
Where does one start with this then?! The Darkness is a band surrounded by double standards and contradictions.|
The music isn't overly original – but it kicks ass. The melodies and hooks are first rate – but the vocalist delivering them is frightful. The production is certainly not a big budget one – yet the promotional push behind the band is huge. Welcome to the world of The Darkness.
This UK band released 2 indie singles before being picked up by Atlantic worldwide for the release of this, their debut album.
They have caused a stir everywhere they go, as like 90's pop counterparts Oasis, they know what buttons to push.
Folks either love them or hate them, but to their credit, one listen and you'll never forget them. Now that is the single most important ingredient to their success so far. They have an image and an angle to play off and it's working a treat. My main argument with this band is this – if they didn't have a kooky singer, would they be getting all the attention they are getting? Of course not – but out of their success, some good might come for others….maybe…
If they had a different singer, or had vocalist Justin Hawkins refrain from those way over the top falsetto notes, they would be a better band in the eyes of the many I'm sure. But probably one without a record deal! That's the sad reality of music these days – labels, management and media love and angle, and Justin's kooky vocals are a very definite angle to exploit.
I suspect the band are quite aware of the way they would be perceived and were well aware of the best way to attract attention and are taking that all the way to the bank.
What started off as a piss-take has blossomed into a genuine hit and there's no turning back for them now. And why would they want to? The guys will continue playing it up to the maximum, taking the piss and having a blast, while making a ton of cash along the way.
So just what is the fuss about? Why is The Darkness being talked about with such passion? Take a listen…one piece of advice, sample the tunes before you invest in the album.
The music of the Darkness is something mainstream media have somewhat ignored and is certainly something not accustomed to being at the top of the charts.
The band really know their stuff and have delivered 10 tracks of high energy, feel good 70's / 80's inspired hard rock, touching on influences ranging from AC/DC to the Rolling Stones and Queen.
And when he's not going completely over the top, Justin's vocals and the pop edge of the music compare with 80's Brit-pop chart toppers The Cure.
What makes the band "special" is singer Hawkins. His vocals appear normal for only a short while before disappearing into a range not tempted by many males, not to mention those falsetto acrobatics that even make Freddy Mercury look straight.
Like a metalized version of The Cure's Robert Smith, the vocals are delivered with little regard for the path the musical base is taking. These vocals are all over the place and are the one reason the band is causing the fuss they are.
Take them or leave them – they are what drive this record. If you can adjust your ear drums, the benefits of some fine songs can be appreciated.
The AC/DC styled opener doesn't do a lot for me, but the hooks of Get Your Hands Off My Woman are more attention grabbing. But it's also the most over the top vocal on the album – no wonder it is the lead single. It's here that Justin's vocals are the hardest to take, which is a shame, as the song has a lot to offer.
Following on though, Growing On Me is an absolute gem. Hawkins even manages to keep the vocal straight for the most part. It's the most accessible song of the album and one of the best pure rock anthems of the year. Seriously!
I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Love Is Only A Feeling and Givin' Up are all equally infectious. Like a tumor, this album just keeps infesting itself in your head and won't let go.
Great tunes really, but it's all about whether you "get" the vocals. Yes, he's a shocker, no doubt…and taking the piss….but if you like the vocals, the album as a package will be impossible to resist.
I love the fact some great, straight ahead rock n roll is getting played on radio and in clubs and I love the fact some Eddie Van Halen inspired guitar solos are included. When was the last time you heard a guitar solo on the radio?
What I don't love is the fact there are better bands out there that will remain ignored and more than deserve the money and attention Atlantic is showing these guys. And I have a small hesitation in supporting a band that really is just laughing at us. But good luck to them I guess…
Let's be honest. If this had been released on one of the melodic indie labels, the band and the label would have been laughed out of town by now. But somehow, being on Atlantic Records gives the band instant credibility.
The production is pretty raw, but the energy and attitude coming through the speakers is really quite addictive. But those vocals! Oh boy….
Will The Darkness prove everyone wrong? Will the general public tire of their style as quickly as they tire of mainstream pop acts? Will the band prove their musical credibility with a monster second album? Only time will tell. But right now, expect the band to be everywhere, expect the debate to continue long into the future and don't expect either side of the love them/hate them clubs to give an inch!
They certainly are not the saviours of rock n roll - that is just absurd, but they do have people talking and they might just open a door or two for others – and that is something I can appreciate.
BTW - My score - 90% for the Music, 10% for the vocals!
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