The Darkness - Hot Cakes
Every once in a while, a band will release a debut album that is so good that you doubt they'll ever top it. Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction is one example. Jet's Get Born is another.
In 2003 British rockers The Darkness unleashed Permission to Land, an ambitious mix of '80s glam and full-on, show-stopping rock 'n' roll. Released to critical acclaim, the album hit the top of the British albums chart and quickly became one of my own personal favourites. One lacklustre follow-up and a drug addiction later, The Darkness sadly imploded.
Seven years later the boys from Lowestoft are back with a vengeance. Having reunited with original bass guitarist Frankie Poullain, who had departed in 2005, The Darkness have launched a new era of their own brand of rock 'n' roll.
It's time to tackle the big question that Darkness fans have no doubt been wondering: is it better than Permission to Land? In short: probably not. But it's still a top-notch album.
While it doesn't have the same "wow" factor as their debut album, Hot Cakes is definitely a return to form. It still has the same head-bobbing, punch-the-air quality of their previous efforts, and overall it seems a bit more polished. Guitar tracks are still top-quality, but somewhat subdued in comparison. It's not as much of an aural assault as Permission to Land, but it's still very, very satisfying.
Don't let that fool you, though. The trademark crude humour and showmanship hasn't gone anywhere, as evidenced by the opening track "Every Inch of You".
Prior to the album's release, we were teased with the release of three singles – "Every Inch of You", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" and "Everybody Have a Good Time". These songs do a great job of setting the tone of the album – jump on YouTube and look them up to get a good cross-section.
One of the surprise standouts of the album was, of all things, a Radiohead cover. "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" captures the essence of what The Darkness are about: hard, fast and pure-awesome rock. It's interesting to compare their version to the original. Enough of the original track is retained to make it recognisable, but The Darkness pump in a truckload of energy in the process and add a whole new dimension to it.
All up, Hot Cakes is a very satisfying development for the band. There's still the old "oomph" factor that The Darkness's fans know and love, as well as a marginally more mature sound. I highly recommend checking out the three singles, as well as the phenomenal Radiohead cover.
If Hot Cakes is anything to go by, The Darkness have a very exciting future ahead of them.
4 out of 5.
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