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The Darkness - Motorheart (Album Review)

Thursday, 02 December 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Listening to The Darkness often feels like watching a blindfolded person attempting to perform a high wire act on roller skates without a safety net. If that particular tightrope, and by extension ‘Motorheart’, also represents the fine line that exists between genius and madness, this rock ‘n’ roll foursome once again prance, dance and teeter all over it as they fly through nine gloriously unhinged songs by the seat of their sequined pants.

Although it often seems like The Darkness are taking the piss, thanks to outlandishly camp costumes, Justin Hawkins’ dolphin-hailing falsetto and more lyrical innuendos than you’d find in a Carry On box set, they do understand that rock music’s outrageously silly, once po-faced, archetypes can’t be performed too seriously these days.

But in the same way Spinal Tap’s adoration of metal gave us that classic spoof documentary, the best in-jokes always come from those who truly adore the subject they’re ribbing.

And ‘Motorheart’ certainly showcases The Darkness’ insatiable love for this  genre as they execute its endearing tropes with their inimitable cocktail of flash, flair and frivolity.

From the road-rage Motörhead charge of Nobody Can See Me Cry and loping Thin Lizzy groover Eastbound, to AC/Darkness cruncher The Power And The Glory, which sounds like the ghost of Malcolm Young has popped up on rhythm guitar, their command of this lexicon is first rate. When they remain perched on the wire, that is.

The quartet do tumble, however, when their daredevil songwriting succumbs to impulsiveness. Welcome To Glasgae is full of superb individual parts. Yet, it almost seems like they’ve handed them over to a child and said ‘go nuts!’ There are bagpipes, there’s explosive riffage, police sirens and cheeky Scottish references galore. Lots to like but, taken as a whole, the song just doesn’t stand on its own two feet.  

When some of the hooks don’t land, it’s tempting to label their approach as underthought and scattershot, but when they get it right, magic ensues. Battering out a bastardised take on Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy before slipping into an epic Stargazer bridge and ‘80s arena-rock chorus, the title track is a fully-functioning Frankenstein’s Monster.  

The Darkness’ Evil Knievel approach to rock ‘n’ roll may find them constantly dangling over the edge of a cliff, but without that fearless mindset they wouldn’t continue to forge their own unique path and concoct superb surprises like Speed Of The Nite Time.  Possessing an early Killing Joke, almost new wave meets AOR moonlit ambience, it’s a parody that encapsulates the attitude of a band who, realising the biggest joke of all would be to take themselves too seriously, continue to walk their own idiosyncratic walk.

The Darkness Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu December 02 2021 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Fri December 03 2021 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy
Sat December 04 2021 - HULL Bonus Arena, Hull
Mon December 06 2021 - STOKE Victoria Hall
Tue December 07 2021 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Thu December 09 2021 - GLASGOW Barrowland
Fri December 10 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Sat December 11 2021 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Mon December 13 2021 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Tue December 14 2021 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Thu December 16 2021 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Fri December 17 2021 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Sun February 27 2022 - DUBLIN 3Olympia Theatre
Mon February 28 2022 - BELFAST Limelight

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