The Darkness Permission to Land
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Before I begin this review, please help yourself and answer this question: do you like classic rock? I’m asking this because Permission to Land is much more likely to appeal to such audiences. The Darkness is a band aiming to relive the classic rock scene of the 80’s, from their wardrobe all the way to their style of music. But even if you don’t usually listen to classics, there’s more than one other reason to give it a try as well.

The band is made up of brothers Justin (vocals) and Dan (guitar) Hawkins, Frankie Poullain on bass and Ed Graham on drums. After impressing the masses with their outrageous and highly energetic on-stage antics around the UK, and with their debut album surrounded by so much hype beforehand (the rock magazine Kerrang! proclaimed them as the best rock ‘n’ roll band over the last twenty years), the overall consensus was that Permission to Land was going to be ‘mind-blowing’, ‘a huge breakthrough’ and other such expletives. I did not find the album to be exactly that, but it was a decent effort to begin with.

First of all, I am thoroughly astonished by Justin Hawkins’ incredible voice. His is a combination of Freddie Mercury’s high-pitched falsetto and W Axl Rose’s rebellious screams. And because of that vocal talent alone (which is definitely a requisite for any modern band trying to sound retro) classic rock fans should get this album. The least you can do is to call them Queen-wannabes, but truth be told, they’re not even there yet.

Keep in mind that these guys are absolutely outrageous, especially during live gigs and in their music videos. Although they don’t claim themselves a joke band, some of the songs were obviously intended to be humorous. Black Shuck, which the first track off the album, actually sounded more like what you’d expect from the works of Tenacious D, except maybe funnier. And the songs Givin’ Up and Growing on Me are much better when looked upon in a more comical sense, but Friday Night is just a downright silly (if not inexplicably embarrassing) excuse for a song though.

Now for the good stuff. Justin’s falsetto is most apparent in the song Get Your Hands Off My Woman, and it’s a very good track, although it’s length was too short for my liking. And then there’s the single I Believe in a Thing Called Love, aided by Dan Hawkins’ electrifying guitars and a steady tune throughout. But Love Is Only a Feeling and Love On the Rocks With No Ice are the true gems off this album, with the latter featuring full-blown thumping rock searing through five minutes of absolute perfection. Lovely.

Note that all the songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph had successfully recaptured the classic feel of the late 80’s, where the rock ‘n’ roll scene was at its peak. Although the lyrics may not have been of Pink Floyd quality, The Darkness is truly a talented band, unlike many other faceless sellout bands you’ve heard of over the past few years. If you ever liked Led Zeppelin, Guns 'n’ Roses, Queen and the like (chances are you do), Permission to Land vaguely resembles the greatness of these past rock legends. As an avid classic rock fan, I’d say that it’s one of the most distinctive and notable rock efforts of the year. But there’s still lots to improve on.


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