With one of the most intriguing careers and a meteoric rise to stardom, The Darkness blasted their way to global success in the naughties with hits including modern classic ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. With a troubled spell involving battling personal demons and breaking up firmly behind them, the Lowestoft rockers begin a new chapter with their fifth full-length, ‘Pinewood Smile’.
The Darkness always had a novelty element and from the very top the sense of humour remains in ‘All The Pretty Girls’. Classic rock vibes and the unmistakable vocal talents of Justin Hawkins punctuate an album that seems more dated than nostalgic. When coupled with tongue-in-cheek lyrical content, for example, the misguided “We’re never gonna stop shitting out solid gold” in the song of the same name, and over-the-top duel guitar solos, it seems like times may have passed the East Coast four-piece by.
Admittedly, it’s hard to tell whether or not The Darkness are taking themselves seriously. But in their unique take on hard politics and imprisonment on ‘Japanese Prisoner of Love’, it feels as though the joke has gone too far, yet it has passed high over Hawkins’ head. The ballad-laden ‘Happiness’ oozes with cheese and ‘Why Don’t the Beautiful City?’ is just plain out of touch.
That is a phrase that can be applied at just about any point throughout ‘Pinewood Smile’. That’s not to say that The Darkness lack talent. Musically, ‘Pinewood Smile’ is authentic with, at times, thunderous riffs and impressive solos, even if they are more Steel Panther than anything meaningful.
With a brief spell as one of the biggest bands in the world, ‘Pinewood Smile’ has all the hallmarks of a band trying to reclaim their former glories. This time warp risks losing more fans than it gains. Thankfully, there will always be that one song that will draw fans to shows but The Darkness should make the most of that while they still can.
‘Pinewood Smile’ by The Darkness is out now on Cooking Vinyl.
Words by Jay Harrison (@Just_Jay_89)