CD Review of One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back by The Darkness
The Darkness: One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back
Label
Atlantic/Wea
The Darkness:
One Way Ticket to Hell...
And Back

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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T
he Darkness never seemed like they deserved the attention they received for their debut Permission to Land. That album had one good, but goofy song, the inescapable single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The rest of the album tried too hard, and the hit got annoying pretty fast (although it was hilarious to hear the thing piped over the speakers at a local supermarket one day). The crunchy guitars and falsetto voices just seemed like another gimmick doomed to relegate the Darkness into one hit wonder land.

So of course it was with much cynicism when I first played their new album One Way Ticket to Hell…And Back. But surprise, surprise, the Darkness have beaten the usual sophomore slump and made one hell of an album that destroys the debut in every way possible. The guitars and voices are still there, but this time the band got it right. That is, you can now hear them wearing their influences on their sleeves and killing them at the same time. It’s one big, fun album that comes at just the right time to basically close this year out on a good note.

The title track opens with the sound of pan flutes that then give way to someone chopping up and snorting cocaine. Now if that’s not rock gold, I don’t know what is. But it’s the music that we came to hear, and on this song and the excellent second track, “Knockers,” the Darkness do their best Cheap Trick imitation and completely pulverize that band into tiny crystalline pieces that can then be re-snorted and enjoyed. This is exactly the kind of music the once great (still great live) Cheap Trick is capable of, but left behind long ago, God knows why.

On “Is It Just Me?” the band creates their own ‘70s classic rock hit that sounds instantly groovy and old, but is brand spanking new. Just wait till it gets to that damn chorus and blows up your stereo. Very much worth it. And on “Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time,” the Darkness turn in their very own Queen. The damn thing could have been on Sheer Heart Attack or some other album around the time. Again, you’re reminded of the greatness of those old groups, and astonished that a new one could take up the mantle and rock as righteously.

“Hazel Eyes” has a hilarious chorus that sounds like it came straight from Slade, while “Girlfriend” would make Jeff Lynne weep at how great a rip-off of ELO it is. Oh, and it’s also better than any hit single that band ever had, so take that, Jeff. And then of course there’s “English Country Garden,” which out-progs any classic prog-rock song and is also short and to the point, which is, of course, fantastic when we’re talking about prog. A whirlwind of breathtaking musical action, to be sure.

So, yes. A big “WOW” for the Darkness and their new album. I’ve seen that other folks haven’t taken to it as much, but fans are a funny lot. Reminds me of when Spacehog released their second album, which was just completely amazing and no one took to it at all. While that certainly won’t be the case with this CD, it would be great to see the fans a little more loyal. After all, I wasn’t a fan, and now I am. And you should definitely have this one in your collection if your original classic rock albums are all worn out from being played constantly.

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