I emerge from over three weeks of silence to tell you about The Darkness. If you’re like everyone else on the planet, the band is already old news (as evidenced by a tour spanning three continents that’s nearly sold out through March), but if you’re like me, you had never heard of them before a month ago, didn’t bother to listen to them before last week, and have since compensated for that missed month of listening time in a mere five days.
The Darkness’ debut full-length, Permission to Land, revives pop metal, glam, and arena rock from the ’70s and ’80s, an endeavor which might have had disastrous results in less skilled hands. Luckily, the band draws more from AC/DC, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, and Kiss than it does from their watered-down latter day followers; there are so many great hooks on Permission to Land that it almost doesn’t need frontman Justin Hawkins’ flamboyant falsetto, but the attitude his pitch brings to the package pretty much seals the deal.
It should be noted as well that this formula would likely fall flat if The Darkness wasn’t clearly having a whole lot of fun, which is best exemplified by its sense of humor. The humor is just barely deadpan, found in the duality of amazingly radio-friendly lyrics about genital warts (“Growing on Me”) and masturbation (“Holding My Own”), and music videos with chintzy special effects and bizarre origin stories (the band was apparently conceived amidst the unholy union of a rocket ship and a papier maché space pterodactyl).
If this doesn’t sound like a good time to you, I’m not sure you can rightly call yourself a fan of rock ’n’ roll.