I wanna dedicate this review to Patrick from Dave Nation, a regular reader and Darkness fan!
THE DARKNESS – Hot Cakes (Deluxe edition with 4 bonus tracks, 2012 Canary Dwarf Ltd.)
The Darkness are probably the band that came out in the last decade that I truly love most. Something about this band just makes me feel GOOD. They always have. I love this band, much to the consternation of some of the people I used to work for at the record store! I love this band, so I worked their music into our wedding reception, and played a shitload of air guitar to it! I just love this band.
I loved the Stone Gods too. But this is the original Darkness: Dan, Justin, Ed and Frankie.
At first I was kind of “blah” to the idea of an original lineup reunion. I liked Richie Edwards just fine too. But Frankie co-writes a number of these tracks, and he has a great stage presence. As for Ed, his trademark drum fills might not be Neil Peart material but he has his own identifiable sound, and his fills are always dead-on perfect for what the songs need. Play air drums to The Darkness some time, you’ll see what I mean!
To get to the point, though: Hot Cakes? It’s magically delicious!
If you didn’t like their second album, the arguably over-elaborate One Way Ticket, then you’ll be happy with Hot Cakes. They’ve brought things back to the basics of guitars, bass, and drums with only the odd embellishment along the way.
But the lyrics are certainly not toned down!
Every man, woman and chile wants to…
SUCK MY COCK!!!!!
Justin’s lost nothing. He’s still bonkshit!* Except maybe just a hint (just a hint!) of his high voice. Or maybe it’s just the production that make it seem that way. It might even be my imagination. So who cares? And to sing and play lead guitar and run around like Steven Tyler? That can’t be easy either!
The majority of songs here are great, and would make my road tape. Much like the first and second albums, there are songs that I keep coming back to over and over again. You become attached to certain hooks in them and then suddenly, BAM! The song is stuck in your head! Examples of this:
“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” – Great fast catchy Darkness single, with one of their classic sounding choruses.
“With A Woman” – Simple, basic AC/DC rocker but with Justin’s flare and yet another catchy chorus.
“Everybody Have A Good Time” – “Come on people, tell me how you feel. You want a good time? Well you got yourself a deal!” Along the blueprints of the feel-good tunes from the first album.
“She Just A Girl, Eddie” – Tied for best song on the album. This is the one I can play 10 times in a row and still hit repeat (usually in the car). As for the lyrics? “There are four billion other girls, who want to make love to you.” Eddie can’t argue with that math. And speaking of Eddie, Ed’s drum fills are what I was talking about earlier — simple, powerful, perfect.
“Concrete” – Solid, riff-based song with great high Justin vocal. Catchy as hell.
“Street Spirit (Fade Out)” – Holy. Shit.
On the negatives: The album somewhat follows the blueprint of the first one. For example a ballad, “Living Each Day Blind” falls on track #5, the same place that the similar sounding “Love Is Only A Feeling” was on Permission To Land. At times it gets predictable, but thankfully the song quality back it up.
I paid a fair chunk of money to have the deluxe edition shipped here from Amazon.co.uk. I’m glad to say it: These four extra songs are worth it!
There are two acoustic demos: The campfire-like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love”, a song as good as any on the album proper. Then there’s a demo version of the album song “Love Is Not the Answer”, which is better than the album version. The album version seemed very much the answer to “Holding My Own” from album #1. The acoustic version loses that soundalike aspect, and exposes bare Justin’s vocal prowess.
Then there’s “Pat Pong Ladies”. No idea what this one is about since it’s not included in the lyric sheet. This one has a more layered and operatic vibe, more akin to album #2. Having said that, it’s a great tune, better than some of the album tracks. It gets positively Queen at times.
Lastly, “Cannonball (Long Version)”. As my fellow rock enthusiast, Heavy Metal Overload asked, “Where’s the short version?” Maybe Ian Anderson knows. He plays that flute part. Of course! But this isn’t a ballad, or even a Tull-like rocker. No, this is The Darkness sounding like themselves (circa album #2 with some boogie piano underneath and layered screams)!
I’m so glad this band is back. I hope to catch them live. I hope Lady Gaga’s audience is into them…now there’s an odd pairing!
* word coined by Statham