The Darkness | Permission To Land | Rating: 9/11 | Reviewed by: Melissa Lozano |
No joke, The Darkness is the kind of band you hear a lot about so you purchase Permission to Land, the British band’s debut album, in order to form your own conclusion. After the first forty-five seconds you’re not sure whether to laugh or give a pair of devil horns. Well, my friends, may I suggest you do both. Because whether you like it or not, this is a good rocking album.
Let’s back track. The Darkness is a four piece band from across the pond. They consist of Justin Hawkins, who provides the voice and guitar licks among other things, his brother Dan Hawkins also on guitar, along with Frankie Poullain on bass and Ed Graham keeping the beat. Justin, there’s the man you need to concern yourself with. World, meet Justin Hawkins, a man not afraid to show off his insanely diversified vocal range. His voice leaves you wondering whether you should take them seriously or not. To any casual music listener The Darkness sound like a band that is trying to give resurgence to the hair bands of the past and is willing to go all out. Tight skin outfits, outrageous hair and all. But they’re not. They’re actually good.
Permission to Land starts off with the heavily guitar driven “Black Shuck.” The first forty seconds alone are drenched with dual guitars and steady drums. That’s where the devil horns come in. The track has you pumping your fists in the air uncontrollably. You are then introduced to Justin’s wide vocal range. He goes up and down the scale at various parts of the song. That’s not the last you hear of that though, he repeats the same style throughout the album… and on just about every song. I’m serious.
“I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” the band’s first single, is a prime example of what to expect from Permission to Land. Heaving guitars, rocking beats, wide ranging vocals, with a whiff of meaningful lyrics (in the aforementioned, “I believe in a thing called love / Just listen to the rhythm of my heart / There’s a chance we could make it now / We’ll be rocking ’til the sun goes down”). Throughout the album, the British lads go to prove that not only can they rock but they can also incorporate lyrics that aren’t just a bunch of words that rhyme. The song “Givin’ Up” describes a drug habit and the turmoil one goes through that concludes in total lack of interest with the world around, “… I’m the scourge of all mankind / And everyone but me / Is destined just to be / Slaves to the remorseless grind / But I found myself an easy way out / Sticking that fucking shit into my arms / Into my arms… Givin’ up, givin’ up givin’ a fuck.” The album also has what some would call a power ballad, “Love Is Only A Feeling.” The song takes you through the feelings of disillusioned love and eventually heartbreak with lyrics such as “Love is only a feeling (drifting away) / When I’m in your arms I start believing (It’s here to stay) / But love is only a feeling / Anyway.” Life after a troubled relationship that was filled with pleasing the other, then coming to the realization that it is not working, and becoming one’s own is depicted in the album’s final and second slow song “Holding My Own.” For instance after hearing the disheartened lyrics “I don’t need your permission / To take this matter in my own two hands / … I’m holding my own / No matter what I put myself through” you can’t help but to give a resounding “hell yeah” even if it brings back tearful memories of a relationship that parallels. Lead singer Justin goes as far as to include a sob at the end of the song which brings the album to a somber end.
The album clocks in at just under 40 minutes with 10 tracks. It lacks filler tracks most albums of this genre too commonly have. You’ll undoubtedly laugh the first time you listen (guaranteed) but you’ll quickly find yourself tapping your foot and bobbing your head. But you will find a way to laugh around some parts and enjoy the album for its true rock musical content. It’s seriously that good.