Band of the Day

2012.08.31

The Darkness

Stratospheric, face-melting British glam rock that’s pure entertainment
I want to kiss you every minute, every hour, every day. You got me in a spin, but everything is A.O.K!
lyrics from I Believe In A Thing Called Love

From Lowestoft, England, the Darkness deliver the retro rock ‘n roll vibe to the post-classic rock world. Having formed in 2000 with lead vocals Justin Hawkins, his brother and guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham, the band debuted Permission to Land in 2003, taking an almost instantaneous rise to the top of UK charts. Following the band’s debut success, they went on to tour with the likes of Metallica, performing their arguably most notable number, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” The Darkness released One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back in 2005, following Poullain’s departure and the subsequent addition of Richie Edwards, the band’s guitar technician, on bass. Lead vocals Hawkins left the band in 2006 due to health concerns, resulting in a temporary breakup. However, in March 2011, the Darkness made their return with both Poullain on bass and Hawkins as lead vocals, and released their latest Hot Cakes.

When The Darkness first exploded onto the music scene over nine years ago, with their debut album Permission To Land, many an eyebrow was raised--especially with the music video for “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” It featured frontman Justin Hawkins, with his long golden ringlets and a chest-baring white spandex jumpsuit, in an epic, intergalactic battle of space monsters vs. rock and roll. Just where did these guys come from (Lowestoft, England)? Was this a joke band (no, though they’re known for their irreverent sense of humor)? Is the tightness of Justin Hawkins’ spandex pants directly proportional to the falsetto notes he can hit (we can only assume so)? The album has since gone quadruple platinum in the UK, and the music video has earned more than 9.5 million views on YouTube. It hasn’t all been a string of highs for The Darkness, however. During the recording of their sophomore album, 2005’s One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back, bassist Frankie Poullain left the band due to creative differences. One year later, Justin Hawkins left the band and went to rehab for cocaine and alcohol problems. The band eventually went on hiatus, with several members working on side projects (Hot Leg and The Stone Gods), before finally reuniting five years later at 2011’s Download Festival. Now, 2012 sees the release of The Darkness’ third studio album, Hot Cakes. Judging by the album cover alone, which features three bikini-clad women covered in syrup and lying seductively on hot cakes, The Darkness haven’t lost that over-the-top spark that made them stand out in the first place. And the music video for “Everybody Have A Good Time” proves it. Deep in a recession, board members of a company called Rock Hard Financial are meeting to discuss their future. One young employee lightens the tense mood by mentioning that it’s his one-year anniversary, and celebrates by bringing in a bear wearing a bikini, who starts stripping to the song “Everybody Have A Good Time.” The rest of the video includes everything from the bear coming up with a profit-winning formula, to a celebratory gala, all leading up to a hot’n’heavy moment of inter-species erotica between Justin Hawkins and the bear (who turns into a beautiful woman). Musically, Hot Cakes is forty minutes’ worth of stadium-worthy rock and roll, from the guitar-shredding guitar solos on “Everybody Have A Good Time” to Hawkins’ signature falsetto howling out hilariously ridiculous and crass lines like “and every man, woman, and child wants to...SUCK MY COCK!” (on “Every Inch Of You”). Lines like this, combined with their music videos, can make it hard to take their music seriously. But when you boil it down, The Darkness are pure entertainers with some incredibly infectious, rocking tunes.