The Darkness know they’ll never sell more than a million copies of an album again, but if they keep steady sales with regular releases they could tour til they keel over and die. For a flamboyant spandex clad metal troupe in the age of Chris Brown, it doesn’t get much better than that. They were slated for their second album One Way Ticket To Hell…and Back, not because it was bad, but as punishment for the outrageous success of Permission To Land. People felt silly for buying a filth laden 21st century Def Leppard album. They became the Dido, Moby or David Gray of the rock world.
Fist pumping bombast is the order of the day on Hot Cakes. It rarely deviates from the riff-riff-headbang-riff-solo-wailing falsetto model, but Hawkins’ ability as a songwriter ensures this formula remains fresh. It’s power pop at its finest. ‘Every Inch Of You’ lays out the sexual benefits of rock n’ roll in no uncertain terms, and in many ways, its theme holds strong: it’s nice to be a singer in a band.
Particular standouts are ‘Living Each Day Blind’ and ‘She’s Just A Girl Eddie’. The former is relatively relaxed, some minor pre-chorus gives real purchase to the chugging celebration of life within the chorus. On the latter the wailing solo, which stays true to the melody allows time to ponder poor Eddie’s predicament. She could certainly do better.
The only gripe is with their cover of Street Spirit. I am to loath join any overearnest killjoy Radiohead fans in their condemnation but it adds nothing to what is otherwise a joyful rollicking rocking journey. It sounds like something Blaze Bayley-era Iron Maiden would have done, and no one likes Blaze Bayley, especially Iron Maiden. That aside they have pulled off a spirited album with commendable bravado. They have found their niche, their mojo and their place in the world. They’re a glam/hair metal hybrid, peddling fun-time smut to fans of Dad-rock and doing it with whatever the rock equivalent of panache is, middle fingers aloft, tongues lodged in cheeks. Long may they enjoy an accurate level of success.