The Darkness

Hot Cakes

BY Ian GormelyPublished Aug 21, 2012

With a cover that rivals Spinal Tap's Smell the Glove and Shark Sandwich for teenage libidinousness and lack of imagination, the Darkness mark their return after a five year split that saw neither side ― lead singer Justin Hawkins, who bailed back in 2006, nor his three bandmates ― produce anything of lasting value. Seven years after their last album stiffed it's clear from the get go that the band's MO hasn't changed. "Every Inch of You" pairs the group's penchant for '70s rock riffs with a double entendre that would make AC/DC groan, while "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" is comes across as an excuse to stack the band's vocal harmonies à la Queen as they repeat the chorus ad nauseum. Much better are "With a Woman" and "Living Each Day Blind," which feel less forced and seem to tap into the sly tongue-in-cheek quality that made their debut, Permission to Land, such a fun romp. That record had the rare ability to balance the ridiculous with the heartfelt, where what lay between the lines revealed much about Hawkins and his life. Now his attempts at arena rock sing-alongs feel like a forced attempt to avoid saying anything personal. Then there's the cover of Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" which turns the alt-nation power ballad into a ripping arena rock number. It's great live, but the recorded version has all the subtlety of a sack of doorknobs to the face. Hot Cakes contains vestiges of the brilliance that once helped make the Darkness a massive cultural force (at least in the UK). But too many of its songs feel like toss-offs and half-formed ideas that aren't about to dissuade fans from yelling "shut up and play the hits."

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