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The Darkness - 'Pinewood Smile' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/2c/36/55/The-Darkness-Pinewood-Smile-13-1512680661.jpg

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The Darkness is shining brightly here.

Think of flamboyant performances, eloquent and witty lyrics, Falsetto vocals and catsuits and two bands come to mind – Queen and The Darkness. For the latter, the link between the two bands becomes stronger as the newest band member is none other than Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of Queen's Roger Taylor.

First single and opener 'All The Pretty Girls' is Justin Hawkins' social commentary on life as a Rock Star and the pros and cons of female attention that comes with it. Meanwhile, the coolest of all buccaneers swashes his buckle as Justin Hawkins delivers a fast, heavy and meaty 'Buccaneers Of Hispaniola'. Returning to traditional Rock comes 'Solid Gold' whose anthemic sound explores the highs and lows of the music industry. It really does seem these guys are "Shitting Out Solid Gold" when it comes to song-writing! Next up, 'Southern Trains', Rocks at full steam ahead, only pausing momentarily before a blistering guitar solo pushes the song on.

Justin Hawkins' voice is not purely about upper register tones as ballad 'Why Don't The Beautiful Cry' shows. Jangly guitars and a softer approach gives this a seventies feel, likewise, the faster-paced number 'Lay Down With Me, Barbara'.

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Since 2003 when the world was hit with 'Permission To Land', despite highs and lows, the journey to today's line-up of Justin and Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and Taylor has resulted in drive, enthusiasm and musicianship that makes them almost untouchable live. That energy throughout this album must, in part, be credited to producer Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse). In a world, full of processed Pop and two-dimensional personalities, this is so refreshing.

There's more anthemic Rock with 'Japanese Prisoner Of Love'. With this offering, Dan Hawkins explores many guitar tonal shades from a deep pounding rhythmic wall of sound to twin screaming solos as his brother releases another flurry of humorous but brilliantly penned lyrics. The summertime Rock of 'Happiness' is perhaps the most commercial track to be found here but just like 'Stampede Of Love' with its Country flavour, they are not your standard Darkness fodder.

If there is one thing certain about The Darkness, it's that they are serious about not taking themselves seriously! This album is overflowing with fun and sees the band putting out some the strongest, witty and hard-hitting material to date. The Darkness is shining brightly here!

Paul Sabin

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