Since making their mark with 2003’s Permission to Land, The Darkness – a modern-day lovechild of Journey’s high-pitched vocals and Steven Tyler’s spandex outfits – have drifted on and off the music industry radar. While their latest album Last of Our Kind is a rock ‘n’ roll feast, it acts as little more than another notch on their retro bedpost.
The Darkness are, and always have been, masters of fun. They’re one of the few bands that can recreate the cheesy glam-rock style of yesteryear without being laughed out of the studio. It’s all thanks to their ability to make you smile – even if it’s a guilty smile you hide from the rest of the world. Tracks such as ‘Open Fire’, ‘Mudslide’ and ‘Sarah O Sarah’ indulge in that classic rock groove, with Justin Hawkins’ impressive high tenor marking the band’s staple sound.
When the synth-heavy opening of ‘Mighty Wings’ begins, it makes us stop in our tracks. Hold on a minute – are The Darkness changing it up? Are they about to go all Bohemian Rhapsody on us?! Oh wait – no, they’re not. The track soon falls into their comfort zone of another big, bold rock song. It’s moments like this that we realise The Darkness are exactly what they say on the tin. Tracks such as ‘Roaring Waters’ show us that their intricate extended guitar solos and echoed, warbling choruses still reach for the lofty heights of a stadium rock band at their 1980s peak, or at least a spot on the Rock of Ages soundtrack.
While The Darkness are bloody brilliant at bringing classic rock into the 21st Century, Last of Our Kind is now their fourth album without having ever diverted from their trademark timewarp. We all love a bit of nostalgia every now and then; let’s face it, what artist hasn’t taken some influence from a moment in music history these days? But The Darkness don’t take a genre and mould it into something new – they simply copy what has been before, and that’s the problem. It’s got some fun party tracks, a decent sense of humour and tailor-made air guitar anthems, but this album confirms it: The Darkness are never going to surprise us.