Review by Rob Broom for MPM
Punk stalwarts new album is full of sophistication and fire, adding a quality addition to their recorded legacy.
The Damned have been around for well over 40 years, and like the Kinks, are in my opinion an essential British band that often get (foolishly) ignored by the mainstream although their influence among other bands and artists is immeasurable.
Whilst the Damned started life as what was to become part of the punk movement they have never really stood still musically. They have evolved (or perhaps that should be mutated) and developed into a fully rounded band bristling with talent that are difficult to categorise into one particular musical genre. Their live shows never disappoint either!
Darkadelic continues that musical evolution with an album that is brimming with depth and musical bite so lets dive straight in.
The album opens with ‘The Invisible Man’ which was the first release onto YouTube and other platforms. The whole band are immediately on form and the song has a tremendous groove. The lyrics could easily refer to how the Damned have been ignored in the mainstream. Can’t wait to hear this one live as it has all the components of a great singalong and should get the audience moving.
‘Bad Weather Girl’ sounds like the Captain is in charge of vocals, and reminds me a little of ‘Billy Bad Breaks’ meeting ‘Disco Man’. The song rattles along at a fair pace with its lyrics of potential climate doom and catchy chorus.
‘You’re Gonna Realise’ has an epic feel to it, Dave Vanians vocals set the tone as the song explores the progression of time and life, yet at only 2 and half minutes long it doesn’t hang about!
‘Beware of the Clown’ kicks off with a strong riff, and as you may have seen from the video, takes a stab at politicians and those trying to to take advantage of us. It is a great rocker, and should be tremendous live.
The band get more dreamy and psychedelic with ‘Western Promise’. Dave Vanian yet again demonstrates his vocal talents and the fact that you don’t need to scream or growl all the time. This song sounds like the Cult meeting the Doors with the power of the Damned driving it along. At times the piece is quite haunting, and to my ears wouldn’t have been out of place at the ’Night of a Thousand Vampires’ show.
The pace picks up with ‘Wake The Dead’, but keeps the themes and sounds of the preceding ‘Western Promise’. This could well be a show stopper live, giving the band a chance to flex their musical muscle with some improvisation each night.
‘Follow Me’ is all about social media and its effects on us. Like ‘Song.com’ from the excellent ‘Grave Disorder’ album it is a biting look on a topic that effects many of us daily. The song is amusing, sarcastic and relevant. Like many of the numbers on this album, it should be blistering live.
Next up, ’Motorcycle Man’ romps along, telling us we ‘have one life, got to live it’. This theme runs through a number of the tunes on this album and so perhaps the band are being reflective about where they are in their lives. None of us are getting any younger, but that shouldn’t stop us trying to have fun and enjoy life and the Damned do it admirably on this number.
‘Girl I’ll Stop At Nothing’ keeps the tempo galloping along with a strong rhythm of bass from Paul Gray and drums from Will Taylor underpinning the guitar and keyboard work while Dave Vanian does what he does best, deliver a great vocal line. In the meantime Captain Sensible yet again reminds us he can play a guitar solo when needed and like the earlier ‘Wake the Dead’, the band will have scope to improvise in a live environment and the keyboard fade out from Monty Oxymoron could easily lead into ‘Melody Lee or ‘I Just Can’t be Happy’ in the live environment. This truly a terrific frantic number and a highlight among an album that is chock full of them!
‘Leader of the Gang’ is a reflective look at fame, the fall from grace and the consequences. Mature in its content and subject matter, this is a brilliant number, particularly for those of us at a certain age who will recall the events alluded to.
There is an urgency and pop sensibility to ‘From Your Lips’ but its more than that, it has a gothic feel to it that rises the song up, giving it a class all of its own. It has a catchy tune and chorus along with some terrific guitar work. Fabulous.
Album closer ‘Roderick’ takes us on a grand journey. It is dramatic and slower paced than the rest of the album. The song keeps the gothic feel and has much in common with ‘Absinthe’, Beauty of the Beast’ and perhaps ‘Curtain Call’. Again Dave Vanian shows he can still conquer up images with his vocal abilities while the music swirls around in accompaniment. A fantastic breathtaking finish.
The whole of this album is layered in thoughtfulness and maturity, definitely very ‘Darkadelic!’ There certainly is more fire in it than its predecessor ‘Evil Spirits’ which should appeal to existing fans and hopefully attract a new audience.
On this album the Damned certainly have opened up and explored the sound they can make and Darkadelic captures a feel between 60s ‘garage’ music, some psychedelia and the Damneds own ‘Black’, ‘Grave Disorder’ and ‘Strawberries’ albums, with a dash of ‘Evil Spirits’ and ‘So Who’s Paranoid’ thrown in for good measure. Importantly though, that mix has produced a coherent whole piece of work which genuinely rewards repeated listening, especially on headphones or at a ‘proper’ volume!
Long standing Damned fans often try to compare the more recent albums against the ‘classic’ one two of ‘Damned Damned Damned’ and ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’. Personally I feel that albums such as the heavy ‘Grave Disorder’ and more poppy ‘Evil Spirits’ have little in common with those earlier albums but are still superb musical contributions to the Damned catalogue and ‘Darkadelic’ certainly joins the ranks of brilliant albums from the Damned and should get the fans talking about where it fits in with the rest of them.
In conclusion, ‘Darkadelic’ is a tremendous release from the Damned and the only problem I have with it is that its yet another contender for ‘album of the year’ and we are only in March! As I have mentioned in several previous reviews there truly are some cracking albums out at the moment – King Kraken, Uriah Heep, Iggy Pop, DeWolffe (review to come) and American Jetset, and thats just what I have reviewed or listened to! Most of these do not fit into one musical genre and it just shows that 2023 is really sounding like a golden year of music and the Damned have definitely added to it with a valid contender for the number one slot.
It also shows that the artists who have been around awhile still have something exciting and vital to offer and can lay down some serious competition for the young guns rather than just resting on the laurels of the past.
Buy ‘Darkadelic’ now and play it at your sibling! (If you know the reference, then you know)
From the upcoming album ‘Darkadelic’ (April 28th) Access it here: https://damned.lnk.to/darkadelicID!MV
Follow the latest news on The Damned and ‘Darkadelic’ here:
The Damned on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDamned
The Damned on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eternally_d…
The Damned on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedamned