Permission to Land
Artist: The Darkness
Label: Must Destroy / Warner,
Length: 10 tracks, 38.19
Recently voted winners in
the categories of “Best British Rock Act”, “Best British Album” and “Best
British Group” at the recent BRIT Music Awards, The Darkness appear on
first glance to be one of those evil, Satan-worshipping bands that your
well-meaning youth pastor would warn you never to listen to. But begone
any assumptions! Let me reassure you, The Darkness are pure satire. If
you think they’re any danger to society, you’ve missed the point.
The lyrics are basically
doggerel about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Highlights (or should that be
lowlights?) include “Black Shuck,” which glorifies a fiery beast with “crimson
paws” that demolishes a quaint little English church; “Get Your Hands off
of My Woman,” where the expletives almost outnumber the other words; and
“Givin’ Up,” an obligatory ode to the joys of taking drugs. However, the
band does manage some decent love songs with “Growing on Me” and “I Believe
in a Thing Called Love.” Add to all that the falsetto hollering of lead
vocalist Justin Hawkins, the long hair, bandannas and spandex outfits and
you have a real-life mockumentary band that out-Spinal Taps Spinal Tap.
It’s a good thing they totally rock!
Truly, this is no half-hearted
songwriting effort. Every track features a blindingly strong melody, great
hooks, solos, and powerhouse energy. It’s one of those records that you
can sing and dance along to at full volume while no-one is around (hopefully!)
Half the fun is mimicking the ridiculously high vocals. And herein lies
the true light that shines in The Darkness.
Heavy metal - 80’s style
- is easy to mock. However, excessive flippancy forgets the sacred role
the genre played in providing affirmation and community to millions of
young people alienated by the decade where greed was good and excess was
success. In spite of its perceived negative influences, it provided a safe
haven in which those commonly thought of as uncool or desirable could bang
their heads, party on and find a cathartic release from the hypocrisy of
the dominant social ethos.
I get the sense that The
Darkness were deeply affirmed by that scene and are celebrating and preserving
its legacy in their music. Nestled quietly (not!) at track eight is the
song “Friday Night,” with the following revelatory words:
Hey you! Do you
Such innocence is uncharacteristic
of usual heavy metal fare, then and now. Like U2 in the early '90’s, The
Darkness turn rock’s clichés on their head by embracing them, showmen
that they are, laying bare the contradictions and producing something of
greater substance and meaning. That is perhaps a little highbrow considering
the band’s deliberately spoof image, but quite obvious in a TV interview
I saw with guitarist Dan Hawkins, as he enviously praised Coldplay frontman
Chris Martin for the serious and honest emotional quality they invest in
I used to sit next to
you at school
We indulged in all the
We weren’t particularly
Monday, cycling. Tuesday,
I’ve got bridge club
on Wednesday, archery on Thursday.
Dancing on a Friday night,
See the lady I adore
dancing on the dance floor.
God, the way she moves
me to write bad poetry.
Dancing on a Friday night,
Go find out for yourself
whether The Darkness are for you. They’re very loud, and very funny. Whatever
you do, don’t start preaching that they are playing the devil’s music.
The joke will be on you.
Brendan Boughen 4/18/2004