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CD Reviews:  Review of Permission to Land by The Darkness


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There is definitely a small, grass roots, retro movement under way in the alternative rock world. An attempt, if you will, to recapture the vibe and the sound of big 1970s guitar rock. For proof of this, please see The Libertines, My Morning Jacket, and yes, maybe most promising, Kings Of Leon. While all these new artists do not necessarily sound alike, they each seem to approach their music and, more notably, their image with a certain “we don’t give a shit” mentality. Lou Reed did it. Bob Dylan did it to perfection, and then taught Tom Petty how to “not care.”

The Darkness, I would argue, takes this frivolous attitude a step further with their heroic new release Permission to Land. Over the course of 10 mostly 3 ½-minute rock operas (remember when every album had just 10 songs, five on each side?), these glittery, sequin-studded, Spinal Tap throwbacks manage to evoke the better side of classic rock. The Darkness has landed from the other side of the pond, maybe 25 years after the fact, with all the big hair, platform costumes, cheesy album cover, raunchy lyrics (“Get your hands off my woman, motherfucker”) and over-the-top riffs galore. Angus Young would commit capital murder for a handful of these guitar parts!

“Growing On Me” and “Black Shuck” are such immediate crank-ups that they could attach a money-back guarantee here. I hear April Wine, Scorpions and definitely Queen throughout this entire project. In fact, if singer Justin Hawkins didn’t grow up studying the wares of Freddie Mercury, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! His brother, Dan, meanwhile was apparently holed up in his room memorizing every big stadium rock riff he could on guitar. While Hawkins’ shrieking falsetto style steals as much from Robert Smith (of The Cure) as it does Freddie Mercury, it will begin to grate on the nerves if not properly prepared. You’ve been warned.

The music, however, is damn good. “Givin’ Up” is ideal in its rollicking tempo and the way it caters to every big hair metal sense. Forget that the songwriting is shallow and without meaning, because some of the best songs from our past were barely decipherable. “Stuck In a Rut” is an obvious tip of the hat to early Aerosmith, and they even boast Bic lighter balladry with “Love Is Only a Feeling.” No doubt that The Darkness will take this classic rock circus on the road in an attempt to preach the traditional gospel of arena rock and liberate the masses. Bassist Frankie Poullain is quoted on the band’s Website as claiming, “Everyone’s too uptight these days. I hate the arrogance of bands who think their petty emotions are interesting. If you look at bands from 25 years ago, people have smiles on their faces. We’re bringing a bit of that back.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

~Red Rocker

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