Friday, July 15, 2011

FDF Volune 3 Issue 232 - The Darkness - Permission to Land

By: March

Album – Permission to Land
Artist – The Darkness
Key Players – Ed Graham – drums. Frankie Poullain – bass. Dan Hawkins – guitar. Justin Hawkins – vocals, guitars, synthesizer, piano
Produced By – Pedro Ferreira

Release Date – August 5, 2003 (in the US)

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I am sure it was one of those one hit wonder shows, or charts I read about. I loved this record for a time. I wanted to go back to it again.

Overview – This is the debut album from UK based “The Darkness”. Blending glam, hard rock and twitch of heavy metal the band would scream on to the music scene in 2003. The album would have four singles, crack the US charts and win a series of music awards. Lead by flashy singer Justin Hawkins the band would do their best to bring back the fun in a rock show and album. They were just fun. After a follow up album the band would disband, only to announce a reformation in March of 2011

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – Right off the bat we get a big guitar and and pounding drums as “Black Shuck” begins. The two Hawkins brothers mash the guitars as Poullian and Graham get the march beat going. Its not overly technical, but hard rocking. Justin hits his operatic notes as the chorus approaches with many call and responses on the chorus. The band has a very straight ahead rock feel to them. The vocals shine as Justin will go from baritone to a wailing falsetto and back again. Dan takes a quick guitar solo and we do the chorus again before wrapping up with one real good vocal push from Justin. “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” has Graham and Poullian feeding off one another at the start before Dan comes in with the guitar and Justin sings in an even higher range it seems. The band has a few more more musical break outs leading to the chorus and the guitars continue to scream and buzz throughout. Poullian and Graham repeat the intro later in the song before Dan has a turn at the guitar solo and we get the chorus again. “Growing on Me”, an ode to sexually transmitted diseases has an 80's big metal feel to it. The band sounds full and right in synch, but it is a little slower than the prior two tracks. Justin soars vocally over the backing vocals in the chorus, all the while the band seems locked in to the groove. Poullian has a strong bass line that is buried a little too deep for my liking but it stands out once you notice it. Per the norm we get a guitar solo and the chorus repeated to the conclusion of the song. The song that was the biggest hit and most widely known follows in “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. A single guitar starts,with a second to join in with the bass and drums. The verse is rather tame as they settle in to a rock 4/4 vibe leading up to the chorus. When Justin sings the chorus eyebrows raise as he goes off the chart with his high falsetto. At first, when the song was getting early airplay, people couldn't decide if this was a joke or serious. Serious for sure. Justin sings another verse and we hit the chorus. After the second chorus he shouts “GeeeeeeeTAH” before Dan plays a solo that compliments the vibe of the track and we come back around for a musical break down, just the drums thumping begging for a hand clap and foot stomp and sing along. If you don't “get it” by now, you've stopped the album and are done. If you stick with it, Dan gets a second guitar solo and we get teased with another chorus, but it never happens. The big, stadium rocker comes to an end. Graham is the lone instrument at the start of “Love Is Only A Feeling”. After a few bars on the kit the guitars and bass come in. Acoustic guitar joins Justin as he starts to sing. Justin has a strong voice and in this more laid back setting he seems to shine even more. This is their most laid back song to this point as well. There is a second guitar solo to keep us in check. Perhaps my favorite track follows in “Givin' Up”. This has it all. The guitars, the bass, the drums the soaring falsetto. Justin seems to be ff the charts on this vocal range on this one. The guitar work is a lot of fun with tandems then single solos, just a great bit of crotch rock going on here! Strap on your spandex!!! “Stuck in a Rut” is another forcing rocker and Justin is really pushing the vocal boundary as the band chugs along with him. This has a “quiet/loud” feel as they hit the chorus the flood gates open up and Justin goes way up. This is some off the charts stuff. The brothers tag team on the guitar near the end as Poullian and Graham hold the back rock solid. “Friday Night” begins with a blend of acoustic and electric guitars. Justin waxes poetic about a girl in his classroom and the band is surprisingly laid back. Not all of them can be barn burning rip roaring rockers. Still, tracks like this resonate more as the band can be a little more expressive with their sound. “Love On The Rocks With No Ice” also begins a bit more laid back before the guitars come in. Graham keeps a very simple back beat as the brothers Hawkins come with the guitars. The dueling guitars are common as the track goes on and it works to a big wall at the end. The album concludes with “Holding My Own” a track that starts with a lone guitar before the full band comes in. A little on the laid back side for an album closer as it has the feel of a power ballad, well at least as power ballad as the band is capable of.

Where are they now? - As noted the band took a little bit of a break from one another. In 2005 Poullain left the band. A year after that Justin Hawkins left the band. He'd go on to form Hot Legs. The rest of the guys formed “Stone Gods”. Both bands are on hiatus as it was announced in March of 2011 they were working together again as “The Darkness”

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – I did see the band live once. It was April 4, 2004 at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a packed and sweaty show for April. The band dropped the big hit “Thing called Love” very early in the set and I heard a few people who arrived late ask “did they play it already?” It was a campy over the top rock show. At one point Justin was in the audience on shoulders playing a guitar solo and he got down and was heading towards the stage and of course the audience was up tight to him, a band member shouted “Let the master through”. It was just a classic moment.

FDF Overall Take – You need to take this one for what it is. The vocals are awesome though. Justin can really nail the range and if you like your music a bit campy but a whole lot of full rock sound, well this is for you. What feels like a gimmick at first will quickly change your tune when you hear they can actually do this, and do it pretty well.

Fun Fact about the band. - In October 2005 Justin Hawkins won an ebay auction for a copy of the bands follow up record. It was a digitally marked advance copy of the record, and Hawkins wanted to track down whomever was selling it.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Givin Up - Live

Audio only for Stuck in a Rut.

The album is still available, you can get it here.


Post a Comment

<< Home