This could be anyone, and that’s exactly the opposite of what The Darkness should be.
Label: Canary Dwarf Records
Released: 1st June 2015
If the ominous pirate sea-shanty doesn’t set the scene for The Darkness’ ‘Last of Our Kind’, little could. Their fourth album is a choppy journey at times, and one that marks a distinct change. They’ve taken their cornerstones – the glam-rock spark, the fun, the distinctive falsetto – and attempted to dial them back into their new surroundings of classics, influence, and maturity.
They’ve got swagger on ‘Roaring Wars’, and Hawkins’ recognisable tones manage to break through on the calm of ‘Wheels of the Machine’. ‘Mighty Wings’ is an intergalactic swipe, blending their heaviest work with their famed catchiness, where ‘Hammer and Tongs’ strips back their influences far enough to actually allow them to peak out a little bit.
The fun is pulled more from the samples and effects that pepper the songs instead of the tracks themselves. Musically, it’s fine; their fretwork is sleek, production tight, and ambition clear, but this is their post-University clean-up, where you dye your hair a normal colour, get a better pair of shoes and try fall more comfortably into adult life. Even the title-track’s extended solo is solid, but time and time again, it’s someone else that rings through, not The Darkness.
Queen, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses – basically take a list of classics and they’ve got their hat tip in there. It’s technically savvy, well-produced and an undeniable journey in each track. The issue is, excluding those occasional vocals, this doesn’t feel like any incarnation of the band. In search of what is assumedly a new identity, they seem to have lost it entirely and fallen into being a cover band of a slapdash blend of 80s rock and metal influences.
Technically, it’s sound and cinematic, but this could be anyone, and that’s exactly the opposite of what The Darkness should be. Heather McDaid