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The Darkness “Hot Cakes”—Album Review

From their very inception 12 years ago, The Darkness have been somewhat of a caricature, howbeit perhaps intentional. After all, when you start a glam-rock revival band at a time when the collective snickering over the genre has barely died out, you don’t expect it to be overly serious. And in fact, The Darkness’ initial rise to popularity rested on the fact that the band was more fun than serious, a curious blend of AC/DC, Queen, and Spinal Tap (and you could now perhaps add Tenacious D to the list).

Interestingly (if not intentionally), the band itself has followed the same path as other bands of their genre who actually did take themselves seriously—through success, pride, excess, substance abuse, fragmentation, and eventually, rebirth. After drifting for awhile, The Darkness has returned with Hot Cakes, an album that plants their feet once again in the fun, not-so-serious vibe that made them popular in the first place.

The album’s opening track and first single “Every Inch Of You” sets the tone with feigned narcissism, as frontman Justin Hawkins talking about once being “a loser,” “an Englishman with a very high voice,” and how everyone, er, “wants” him now because he’s in a rock band, and how he’s going to “work it.” Punctuated with characteristic screaming rock falsettos, this is stuff no one could get away with except in caricature. The vibe continues with “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” and “With a Woman,” carrying into the party-rock anthem, “Everybody Have a Good Time” and beyond. Typical of the genre, this album rarely takes a break from the heavy drums and guitars; in fact, there’s hardly a song on the record that could be considered a ballad, except perhaps “Forbidden Love”—and that’s a stretch.

Just to be clear, though, this is neither a satire band, nor a satire album. Where The Darkness differs from a band like Spinal Tap is that in another time, this band really could be a more serious rock band. What makes Hot Cakes work as a record in 2012 is that it is self-aware—it takes us on a journey without taking itself too seriously. The Darkness have apparently found themselves again, making fun music with a subtle, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

While Hot Cakes is hitting shelves and online stores today in the states, The Darkness is currently on tour in Europe with Lady Gaga (is it just me, or is that a perfect fit?). Whether the album will sell like—well, you know—remains to be seen, but it certainly deserves kudos as a comeback album.

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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