The Darkness – Hot Cakes Album Review

2012 in the UK has had some momentous moments, one way or another. One of the more startlingly wonderful ones is due on 20th August – a new album from The Darkness. Previously a thing of Darkling dreams/longing, it’s now a thing of reality. REAL reality won’t happen until I have the precious bits of plastic/vinyl in my hands, but they’re so very nearly here!

Whilst the interminable wait ticks by, minute by minute, I cheated. Thank the Lords of Rock for Rolling Stone’s stream, which is on (manual) loop.

YouTube, streams and the official releases have been your friend over the last months. Fans are familiar with the thrust of the whole new thang, if not with the fine detail. By now, Hot Cakes has become a favourite acquaintance with whom you are about to become very much more intimate. You’re going to delve and explore what you thought you knew, savour the discovery of the unknown, slowly peel away layers of sweet rock to uncover more enticements.

Back to Darkness basics. This is a far cleaner and stripped back production than OWTTH…AB, as promised. Nick Brine’s expertise comes in very handy when applying clarity and restraint to the natural Darkness leanings to excess. It works beautifully – controlled musicianship with the underlying promise of glorious chaos highlighted. There’s a delicacy of touch, in Forbidden Love particularly, that’s delightful to witness.

In fact, that song’s a treasure. Seems like a slip of a thing, but it has plenty of strength. Living Each Day Blind is an epic rocker made for the stage, easy to get lost in. Classic rock lives on in Keep Me Hanging On, which was the personal surprise of the album – great vocals. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us brings its normal moshy anthemic  joyousness, rising to the trademark crescendo of sound and voice. Concrete – a crowd favourite for over a year – wonderfully headbangy with stupendous rock screams to finish. With a Woman has a damnably catchy chorus and great lyrics and should be a live hit with the way it builds. She’s Just a Girl, Eddie is another crowd favourite already. Street Spirit has long been a little Darkling treasure, and fully deserves its inclusion. The original is fairly iconic, but this version will become the definitive version for a different audience. It’s a song that asks to be screamed out with frustration, despair and longing, and pretty much gets it.

The two releases – Every Inch Of You and Everybody Have a Good Time have intros that instantly mark the songs as TD’s own brand – no mistaking them for anyone else’s. Very different in tone, as a pair they are TD embodied. Fun, serious, defiant, feelgood, loud, potty mouthed and utterly relative to everyone’s lives. With some nice dirty guitar solos and falsettos thrown in, whom else could it be?

The stream includes the long version of Cannonball which has some more delicate touches than the full blown live extravaganza, but is brilliant in its own right. There is also an acoustic demo versionof I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love, which quite frankly is one of the best songs they’ve ever done. It could be performed in any version and still stand up, and the lyrics are some of the most adept.  The other demo version is of Love Is Not The Answer, which is on the album ‘proper’ in the final cut version which shows off Justin’s vocal prowess beautifully – but I think that this acoustic version actually suits the song and its sentiments better. Or maybe just suits my temperament? I prefer it anyway.

Pat Pong, one of the more bizarre things TD have done, is happily there as a mastered version. It’s such a great thing to listen to – ‘with both sets of genitalia’ is a lyric I’ll not forget – just so wonderfully TD. It was great live at the 100 Club, and deserves to be heard live again!

The album, as always, is about life and love, and sticking your two fingers up at both of the buggers because even when it’s going right, disaster is not so far away. Or vice versa. Especially that Love stuff – should be approached with caution as it can get you into a whole lot of joy/mess/trouble (the path of true love never runs smooth, so if it’s less than true love and more of a eye for a roll in the hay, take care. Just in case,  like).  Thank heaven, though, for the spirit that bore Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us ten years ago, because without it, there would be no Darkness – this time OR last.

Whatever your Darkness preferences, they are catered for. Slow and seductive, hard and fast, enthusiastic, bouncy and energetic. You will have in your hands something that you can enjoy over and over again, alone or with likeminded individuals. Just don’t try and keep quiet during the process.

Fan bundles are still available, and  iTunes, Amazon etc also all have lovely things ready to ship to you.

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