By Erin Wolf
When The Darkness crash-landed on the stagnant rock scene two years ago, it startled hordes of music fans into stupefied wonder, creating either strong affinity or distaste. Cheeky hair metal can produce nothing but strong feelings.
For those hordes still recovering from the initial shock of their first release, Permission to Land, The Darkness bring it on back with their latest, One Way Ticket to Hell…And Back. Somewhere, Freddie Mercury is listening intently to his emulating, three-octaved vox counterpart, Justin Hawkins. Hawkins, sibling Dan, Ed Graham, and Frankie Poullain have become Britain’s most-loved (and hated) rock band for sheer bombast, guitar solos straight from the ‘80s and stage personas amplified by J. Hawkins’ elaborate cat-suit costumes.
More solos, more vocal trills, more arena-rock bliss, more flippant than ever, The Darkness’ latest is just more. Confident to the point of annoyance, The Darkness rip through tales of rock-star woe, complete with cocaine sniffing. More orchestrally polished, thanks to producer Roy Thomas Baker (who also has worked with Queen and The Who), the band experiments with piano sounds, bagpipes, sitar, Moog and enough pan flute intro to satisfy Jethro Tull.
From Bryan Adams-esque ballads to the fist-pumping title-track, One Way Ticket sounds more pulled together, more ballsy, and more competent: they don’t take themselves seriously, yet they can seriously play their instruments. The Darkness return with a triumphant scissor-kick in the air. VS