Where To Start With…. The Darkness
Everything The Darkness have ever done, both onstage and off it, seem to run completely opposite to how most bands normally do things. But then when you arrive in 2002, a time dominated by the resurgence of indie rock and nu metal, wielding riffs that sound like they’ve been prized from Thin Lizzy’s back catalogue and falsettos that were pure Freddie Mercury, they were never going to be a band that swum with the tides.
Before they’d even released their debut album Permission To Land, in fact, before they’d even signed a record deal, they were already selling out venues with capacities in the thousands, by the end of 2004, they were headlining Reading Festival. They sold millions of albums and filled arenas in the months that followed before heading out into the studio to begin work on album number two.
When that album, One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back, emerged at the end of 2005, the cracks were already starting to appear. It charted well, went platinum, but didn’t live up to the success of its predecessor and started the band on a downward trend. By the end of 2006 it was all over, with drug addiction and infighting dragging the band to a halt.
After some dodgy side projects, the band reunited in 2011 and recorded their comeback album Hot Cakes. It didn’t lead the band back to arenas, but performed more than respectably and it’s now followed by a new album named Last Of Our Kind (full information on that here).
Things are steadier for the band now, but, even in recent months it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the band. During the recording and promotion of this album, the band have managed to part ways with two drummers, first long-time sticksman Ed Graham, who left the band last year and was replaced by Emily Dolan Davis, who contributed the drums you will hear on the album. She, however, has already moved on and been replaced by Rufus Taylor, son of Queen drummer Roger, who will tour with the band.
Last Of Our Kind is a typical The Darkness record, pure bluster, anthemic choruses and guitars riff that sound like they’ve frozen in a time capsule since 1974. Ambitious and ridiculous (it’s got a mandolin solo for god’s sake), it’s everything you want from the band. You can preview the album’s opener ‘Barbarian’ below’.
To celebrate the band’s return, we thought we’d dig through the crates and pick out the best moments from their back catalogue, so here we go, here are five tracks to get you started…
(You can check out each of the tracks in our digital store by clicking here).
The opening salvo on the band’s supremely successful debut album Permission To Land tells you everything you need to know about the band. It’s loud, it’s powered by a riff Brian May would love to call his own and it builds to a chorus that will meld itself to the inside of your brain.
It’d be criminal to round up The Darkness’s best moments and leave this one out. It introduced a whole new generation to the power of falsettos, catsuits and solos and you’ll still hear it at every night club when the DJ needs to get the crowd back onside.
The whole of Permission To Land is a homage to the best of classic rock, which means you’ve got to have a big ol’ lighters-in-the-air ballad, and this is it. Lovelorn lyrics, a big, shimmering guitar riff and a chorus that puts Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling' to shame. It’s also got a ludicrously over the top video to go with it…
After selling over two million copies of Permission To Land and moved from the bottom to the very top of festival bills in less than a year, the band’s second album was to be a challenge to live up to the might of its predecessor. As it was, the band turned in a record that was even more stupidly over the top than their debut, with nothing showcasing that better than the title track.
The track begins with an intro of pan pipes before gliding into a glam-sprinkled rocker with a proper chant along chorus. It also features the least cloaked references to excessive drug taking since Marilyn Manson’s ‘I Don’t Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)’…
The band’s long-awaited comeback record Hot Cakes didn’t have as many big tunes as their older albums, but this is one of the best they’ve done. A swaggering, groove-filled rocker, this is up there with their best work.
The Darkness’s new album Last Of Our Kind is out now in hmv stores across the UK.