The Darkness Craft Surprising Hit With Hot Cakes
It is safe to say that The Darkness have had as interesting a career arc as any band over the last decade. After bursting onto the scene in 2003 with their popular debut album Permission To Land, the band faded away with a less dynamic follow-up, drug problems, and the subsequent departure of lead singer Justin Hawkins. Three-fourths of the band split to form Stone Gods while Hawkins formed Hot Leg, performed under the moniker British Whale, and even tried to enter the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
All of the above information makes this next sentence fit the very definition of improbability: The Darkness’ new album Hot Cakes is one of the five best rock records of 2012.
Hot Cakes, which was released this past Tuesday in the United States, is a record loaded with the guitar and falsetto which once made the band a one-album wonder. Led by a rejuvenated Hawkins, The Darkness reunited with all four members of the original lineup last spring to tour and record new material that was primarily penned by Hawkins and his brother, Dan.
The record opens with “Every Inch Of You,” a track that lacks any semblance of shame as Hawkins relays the glory of being a rock star and the feeling that everyone around him wants to imbibe his manhood with a singular shrill. Hot Cakes continues with a series of ‘80s-style power rock that channels Queen as The Darkness roll through power rock guitar parts and pop choruses with the songs “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us,” “With A Woman,” “Forbidden Love,” and “Keep Me Hanging On.”
Later in the record, The Darkness turns loose the LP’s most natural live track with the song “Everybody Have A Good Time.” A shoe-in to gain significant radio play on alternative rock stations, Hawkins, et al. bring the party to Hot Cakes with the track by using some of their catchiest guitar and drum parts, as well as a reference to Iron Maiden.
As Hot Cakes draws to a close, The Darkness drops in a very different cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” A harder, noticeably louder take on the song, the band manages to successfully rework the piece in their own image before closing out the record with the memorable “Love Is Not The Answer.”
The Darkness’ second wind, Hot Cakes can best be summarized as a guitar-driven shot in the arm for a band that had never followed up on its limitless promise and may be enjoyed as their greatest work to date. With luck, the group will not be gone so long the next time around.
The Darkness are currently touring as a supporting act for Lady Gaga until December 3rd, a tour that will take them to Europe, Central America, and South America. Hot Cakes is currently available as a digital download and CD.