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The Darkness - Pinewood Smile (Album Review)

Thursday, 19 October 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

“History will remember us as the apathetic generation who negligently ushered in a dreadful dystopian age that may or may not come to be known as ‘The Rise of the Arseclowns’.” With his unique take on Brexit and Donald Trump matching his group’s equally idiosyncratic and often hilarious new record, we’d like to say welcome back Sir Justin of Hawkins: may conformity and political correctness never darken your wonderfully unhinged door.

Haters may dismiss the Darkness as a novelty act whose appeal went stale following their bow ‘Permission To Land’, but as Thin Lizzy famously sang: don’t believe a word. Their albums tend to boast the same breath-of-fresh-air quality and ‘Pinewood Smile’ – their third album post reformation and first to feature drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of Queen’s Roger – is no exception.​  

This is supremely crafted, hook-heavy rock ‘n’ roll that’s laced with irony and hammered out by an eternally youthful, unapologetically outspoken foursome. Its contents are as infectious and wild as they are and, in turn, pleasingly familiar and unpredictable.  

All The Pretty Girls recalls the rip-snorting punchiness of their debut, while Solid Gold is a music-business-bashing shit-kicker that sounds like Airbourne re-writing Pink Floyd’s Have A Cigar in the style of – you guessed it – AC/DC. Buccaneers of Hispaniola is Hazel Eyes crossed with Barbarians, its yarn about a fearsome pirate spewing out pillaging riffage and a tidal wave of banshee shrieking.

‘Pinewood Smile’ is unmistakably a Darkness album, only fortified by brazen forays into new territory. Japanese Prisoner of Love’s an operatic monster with Thin Lizzy licks and overdriven Muse angst, but Stampede of Love is a pseudo-country duet about fat people in love that leads to a guitar solo so classic plaques should be erected in its honour.

Elsewhere, Southern Trains is a ferocious metallic-punk diatribe that weaponises Jimmy Page’s Rock & Roll motif before feral vocals spit out its indignant hook. The unlikely Steely Dan and the Smiths stylings of Lay Down With Me, Barbara and deceptively soulful Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry? epitomise a record that shows the Darkness won’t be succumbing to formula any time soon.  

Things do go slightly awry, however, on the relatively straightforward Foo Fighters-esque Wish I Was In Heaven and Happiness, which could be Weezer penning a song for Queen’s ‘Brighton Rock’. Both are enjoyably melodic filler, but their lyrical content is strangely uninspired and, well, normal.

The Darkness remain the embodiment of how a contemporary classic rock band should sound. Their influences are easily identifiable, but combine to create a growling, preening, pouting Frankenstein’s monster that’s endlessly enriched by the band’s inimitable character and bonkers storytelling flair.

The Darkness Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Thu November 23 2017 - SOUTHAMPTON O2 Guildhall Southampton
Fri November 24 2017 - MANCHESTER Academy
Sat November 25 2017 - BLACKBURN King George's Hall
Mon November 27 2017 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Tue November 28 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed November 29 2017 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Fri December 01 2017 - STOKE Victoria Hall, Stoke On Trent
Sat December 02 2017 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Sun December 03 2017 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Tue December 05 2017 - GUILDFORD G Live
Wed December 06 2017 - MARGATE Margate Winter Gardens
Thu December 07 2017 - SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Sat December 09 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sun December 10 2017 - LONDON London Eventim Apollo
Mon December 11 2017 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome
Wed December 13 2017 - CARDIFF St Davids Hall
Thu December 14 2017 - BRISTOL Colston Hall

Click here to compare & buy The Darkness Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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