THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes [Collector’s Edition] (2012)

THE DARKNESS - Hot Cakes [Collector's Edition] (2012)


THE DARKNESS, England’s fearlessly flamboyant answer to ’80s glam / glitter hard rock, are back after a five-year hiatus with the original line-up and a new album: “Hot Cakes”.

In late 2011, the British quartet enjoyed a handful of reunion dates – clad in their signature open-chested catsuits and leather pants – followed by a North American tour. In February, frontman Justin Hawkins sang their old song ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ for a Super Bowl commercial, pushing the 2003 anthem back up the iTunes charts.

Next week the band will consummate the reunion to record the new album, their first to feature original bassist Frankie Poullain since the 2003 debut.

Justin Hawkins may be the face and attention-seizing voice of The Darkness, but the heart of their sound lies in his guitar playing, which offsets brother Dan’s ‘Angus Youngian’ raunch with the sort of rich, harmonic solos that Tom Scholz used to slather on Boston records.

And despite the band’s love for retro hard rock histrionics, “Hot Cakes” furthers the notion that the Darkness are, in essence, a very slick power-rock-pop band with high doses of commercialism.

“Hot Cakes” was recorded by the band at Dan Hawkins’ home studio as well as Rockfield in Wales, assisted by producer Nick Brine with glam rock legend Bob Ezrin behind the mixing board.

Highlighted by wailing sex anthems (“Every Inch Of You”), pop-metal hooks (“Living Each Day Blind”), and a thrashing glam reinvention of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”, the album culls generously from the band’s usual pool of influences – including flashy hair bands, seventies hard rock and Queen.

There’s the usual feel-good rockers such as “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us”, “Keep Me Hangin’ On” and “Everybody Have a Good Time”. The titles says all.

The Darkness is a mega-selling sensation in UK, and a more modest phenomenon in America. “Hot Cakes” arrives to try make ’em big there and so far as possible.

It’s a very comercial disc with easy tunes very well produced and arranged, and although this stuff isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I must admit that The Darkness is a good thing.

A good thing because this band is able to spread rock-rooted songs in the mainstream music business (they will be an opening slot on the European leg of Lady Gaga’s tour), and maybe it helps to bring new listeners to the (real) hard rock genre.

“Hot Cakes [Collector’s Edition]” includes a bunch of bonuses of old songs in acoustic form and alternate takes, some of them really cool and enjoyable.

Enjoyable as it’s the whole CD if you’re looking – nothing more, nothing less – for a fun, good time.

01. Every Inch Of You

02. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us

03. With A Woman’

04. Keep Me Hangin’ On

05. Livin’ Every Day Blind

06. Everybody Have A Good Time

07. She Just A Girl Eddie

08. Forbidden Love

09. Concrete

10. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

11. Love Is Not The Answer

12. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love (Acoustic Demo) (Bonus Track)

13. Love Is Not The Answer (Acoustic Demo) (Bonus Track)

14. Pat Pong Ladies (Demo Mix) (Bonus Track)

15. Cannonball (feat. Ian Anderson) (Long Version) (Bonus Track)

Justin Hawkins : Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards

Dan Hawkins : Guitar

Frankie Poullain : Bass

Ed Graham : Drums


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