THE DARKNESS - Pinewood Smile (Album)

Matt Jones


A band that has consistently divided opinion within the rock community, The Darkness, for me have never made a bad record. Living in the shadow of the incessant mutterings of “one hit wonder” they take everything with a seeming pinch of salt and live up to rock star archetype. 


The band's landmark debut album “Permission Land” sky rocketed them and I personally adored their follow up “One Way Ticket to Hell”. It was absolutely lambasted by critics and fans at the time of release and as someone who got into the band later I can objectively say there is very little difference in quality and style of music.


The last few releases have kept up with their same Marmite formula of banshee wails and exciting 4 minute rock explosions.


If you are a “Permission to Land” rimming bastard (yes we know it's an amazing album). You will get a kick out of this new release but you will inevitably be a really hard to please douche.


Opening track “All the Pretty Girls” wastes about 3 seconds before it launches into falsetto screams Rob Halford wished he could still do. Justin's voice never seems to waiver and I am engaged with this album from moment zero.


“Buccaneers of Hispaniola” has the most infectious groove; it just slams into a high tempo flurry of rhythmic brilliance. The addition of Rufus Taylor is evident here. Some textbook harmonies make their appearance and we can hear The Darkness rolling out the signature musical tropes with ease.


Shitting out “Solid Gold”. I did giggle I must admit. Letting you know they still have fun with their music and their words this is just a straight AC/DC style rocker with a mammoth chorus filled with immense bravado.


Making full use of the new asset in the band we get a drum solo to open “Southern Trains”. A balls to the wall riff focused song with extremely chaotic vocal phrasings from Hawkins. Dan really lets loose in the solo towards the end, a complete noodle fest that is perfect for the song.


The 5th track “Why Don't The Beautiful Cry” confuses me. It's almost like a Weezer song. The weak point on the record for me. Inoffensive but not good either. It does annoyingly have such a wonderfully melodic solo I can't help but love that is consumed in a heap of needless multi-tracked harmonies.


“Japanese Prisoner of Love” is an exciting shuffled infused song. It brings back the dynamic I expect to hear from The Darkness. The chorus change is sublime, it deviates from hard rock rhythms to a wistful Kate Bush esque wandering chorus.


Next track “Lay Down With Me Barbara” is a brave sounding song. Reminiscent of power pop bands of the 90's like Jellyfish. A sophisticated, melodic pop song.


“I Wish I Was In Heaven” highlights the brilliance in Justin's voice. The high notes are perfection, this song even has echoes of 80's Rush, I can hear elements of Spirit of the Radio and Red Barchetta. Just a great melodic song full of hooks. My favourite cut from the record.


A Darkness record would not be complete without a ballad. “Happiness” is a rock anthem. Pure elation and so many major chords, if you like Radiohead, this song may kill you.


I thought I was listening to Blackbird by The Beatles when final track “Stampede of Love” began. A folk number that delicately builds into an incredible solo from Dan Hawkins. This is an invigorating rock release and I love it.


If you are a long time Darkness fan, you will probably have a whinge at this album. This record to me is quintessential Darkness! Buy it now.


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