Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
Picture the scene: Dark clouds lurk menacingly on the horizon, lightning flashes intermittently, illuminating a dark, miserable landscape populated by countless lost souls mindlessly going about their daily drudgery.
Amidst the grey urban sprawl, dark Overlords watch from their high tower, laughing, knowing that nothing can save the populace from the nightmarish hell that has been created.
Then, suddenly, a blinding light splits the sky. A swirling purple vortex explodes into being and from its heart ride four leather-clad heroes, the roar of their motorcycle steeds like some strange and beautiful choir. They halt at the foot of the Overlords’ tower, their leader rises in his seat, brandishing his weapon of choice (a Gibson Les Paul, obviously!) and unleashes a tirade of cascading, distortion-fuelled licks accompanied by a ghoulish falsetto howl and the Overlords tremble! The Darkness are back and light has returned to the world!
Yes indeed! The Darkness are back with their new magnum opus, Motorheart and they mean business! They mean to take all that is grey, miserable and dull in our world and reshape it with a barrage of crazed riffery, howling falsetto vocals and insane lyrical nonsense and we shall all smile again!
Truth to tell, it’s nigh on impossible to listen to The Darkness without smiling. Even if Justin Hawkins’ wild falsetto occasionally grates on your nerves and even when the lyrical content occasionally has you scratching your head in disbelief, somehow they manage to make you smile – laugh out loud with utter joy, even – and in this day and age that’s something to be very glad about!
Motorheart continues The Darkness’ quest for world domination in traditional style and the highlights are many. ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’ is a quite ridiculous opening anthem extolling the virtues of that fine Scottish city. It might be utterly bonkers in the lyric department but it’s still a brilliant and massive modern riff-heavy extravaganza that comes raging out of the speakers with all the subtlety of a Glasgow kiss! It even has bagpipes in it and not many Rock songs can boast that honour! Hawkins’ ‘Welcome tae Glasgae’ death-grunts are worth the price of admission alone on this one.
Title track ‘Motorheart’ is a brilliantly written piece that combines all sorts of Classic Rock influences, with Arabian guitar melodies, staccato riffs, time-changes and highly melodic hooks and then adds the requisite bonkers lyricism. If you locked Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Queen and a weird, deranged poet into a darkened room, this is what would come out! It’s absolutely brilliant and is kinda like an entire Rock opera all crammed together within a single 5 minute song – quite superb!
The Darkness pile on the melody overload in the stunningly catchy ‘Jussy’s Girl’ (what a superb title!!) Don’t be fooled – this definitely isn’t some weird copy of the Rick Springfield classic ‘Jessie’s Girl’, but, in common with that classic track, it is in fact a brilliant piece of sing-along Classic Rock. I can hear a bit of early Def Leppard influence on this one, a crazy tale of Justin Hawkins’ desire for the young lady in the title.
‘Sticky Situations’ piles on the Queen influences in another extremely well-written piece that moves through several different sections and moods, with acoustic instruments, strings and choral vocals adding a whole new dimension to the track. It’s another example of that weird juxtaposition between the ‘serious’ clever instrumental writing and beautifully off-the -wall and humorous lyricism and is a standout – no mean feat given the quality of the rest of the songs on here.
The boys’ Thin Lizzy influence is most keenly felt in the brilliant ‘Eastbound’ as Hawkins and co regale us with a tale of heading to the East Coast of England to visit family and friends and pick up an ‘East coast lady’ on an epic pub crawl. While it sounds nothing like the classic Lizzy track ‘Southbound’, it nonetheless captures the spirit of that song and mutates it quite gloriously into something that only The Darkness could do – only they could include a list of Suffolk coastal towns Oulton Broad and Lowestoft’s finest taverns and name-check the River Waveney in a song!
The remaining tracks, ‘It’s Love Jim’, ‘The Power and the Glory of Love’ and ‘Nobody Can See Me Cry’ continue in the same vein – massive Classic Rock anthems, full of superb guitar riffs that you feel you’ve heard before but can’t quite place (always a good sign in my book) , wailing solos and the usual bonkers lyrics, twisting and turning through tempo changes and key changes in the fine tradition of their many heroes from Rock’s glorious past, yet still being utterly and completely The Darkness.
The album ends on an up-tempo feel with ‘Speed of the Nite Time’, which has an odd early 80s British alternative rock feel to it. There’s a bit of early The Cult in the guitars although this is balanced by some spacy and ‘out there’ keyboards. It’s very different to the rest of the album and is a quite brilliant closing track.
Motorheart is an excellent album! The strength of the songwriting and the performances of all members of the band is utterly exemplary. The band use their influences extremely well – you can spot them throughout, yet at no point are they being derivative of any one band and as a result, they once again make this their own. Justin Hawkins has lost none of his sense of humour over the years (and lyrically this album truly is as bonkers as they come) but oddly enough, that’s a major strength of it. It retains the uniqueness that is the sound of The Darkness .
The Darkness are well and truly back and are bringing with them more sunshine than a week’s holiday in Lanzarotte in August! Stream, download or buy this immediately (there is a ‘deluxe’ version out there with additional tracks that are not on the review copy if you’d like more for your money) and let The Darkness bring some light back into your world! You will NOT regret it!
Welcome Tae Glasgae
It’s Love, Jim
The Power And The Glory Of Love
Nobody Can See Me Cry
Speed Of The Nite Time
You Don’t Have To Be Crazy About Me… But It Helps *
It’s A Love Thang (You Wouldn’t Understand) *
So Long *
- – bonus deluxe tracks
Taken from the new album ‘Motorheart’, out 19th November. Available to pre-order now: https://TheDarkness.lnk.to/motorheart
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