The Darkness are back, and predictably, as they inch towards serious rock’n’roll, they also tourette tic a little preposterousness. “Every Inch of You”, which opens the album, sees Justin Hawkins filling his lungs and screaming “suck my cock". It has left some commentators scratching their heads. Do The Darkness want to be ACDC? Can they ever match the wit of Bon Scott’s bon mots? Neither are questions worth asking. This album simply wants you to air guitar 'til you drop.
It also soon settles into a slightly less tongue-in-cheek pastiche of Seventies good-time rock; more like the Black Key’s El Camino for people who don’t take themselves seriously. The result is their most satisfying album so far. The sound is fuller than on their debut Permission to Land, and the songs catchier than the unloved sophomore, One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back. It’s also been a long time coming. Seven years, to be precise, during which the band have lived through such clichés of rock excess - some involving drugs, others dwarves - it seemed unlikely they’d ever recover.
But by some miracle they have sobered up, overcome various serious illnesses, and acquired some interesting facial hair. Most importantly they’ve retained that knack of making you feel like a 16-year-old boy. The good-time glam stomps (“Nothing’s Going to Stop Us”), the soft rock (“Everybody Have a Good Time”), and the power ballads (“Livin' Each Day Blind”) are all there. As is an odd cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit”. The turbo guitar works well but Hawkins's voice is way too serious. It just underlines what makes the band so loveable. Yes, they could junk the leather cat suits and go easy on the helium vocals. It would probably give them some Classic Rock kudos. But where would the fun be in that?