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Music Review: The Darkness – Permission To Land

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“The heart wants what the heart wants.” That clich&#233 is often trotted out to describe all manner of incongruous (or dysfunctional) relationships. In this case, it describes my relationship to Permission To Land.

I shouldn’t like it…but I do.

This record has had mountains of press devoted to it. People love it, people hate it. They’ve saved rock & roll, they’re pathetic. Innovators…or “Queen-lite”.

It’s all true. Every last drooling accolade and snotty put down. Pick your side. I don’t care.

All I know is that on the strength of the buzz emanating from that inconclusive war of words, plus a single bizarre appearance on Letterman, my curiosity won out.

Actually, the Late Show appearance is a good place to start. Four butt-ugly guys playing a kind of sorta-metal that could have come right out of 1972. The singer’s voice wavered from growl to shriek to an amusing faux-operatic falsetto. Even with the slightly off-pitch delivery (hey, who am I to judge? I can put up with both Fee Waybill and David Lee Roth!) I was intrigued. Somethin’ elusive and mysterious was setting up camp in a little-used part of my memory.

So now with the CD in hand I set out to nail down what the fuss (this time internal) was about.

They’re not just ripping off Queen. Oh, no. They’re actually making something new out of nearly every rock clich&#233 you can think of. From early metal to classic rock to pop metal to hair bands. It’s all there…Every stupid drug reference, every chunky guitar intro, dual guitar solo, vocal exclamation (“Yayah!”), thudding tom and crashing ending.

I love every dumb minute of it.

It’s like Spinal Tap and Tenacious D put through a blender while the Wayback Machine was running. You don’t have to listen too closely to hear bits of Focus, Deep Purple, Bad Company, Queen, King Diamond, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Kiss, Boston, Poison and even Bon Jovi.

It’s rock clich&#233 ventriloquism of the highest order. It’s a load of fun.

Saviors of rock? Probably not. But with all of the truly dark stuff going on in the world, The Darkness sure have brightened up a little corner of it.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://www.rockdummy.com Craig Lyndall

    This is the only review of this album that I have agreed with thus far. For the record, I hate these guys, but I agree with every other one of your points.

  • Kyle Beilke

    I love the Darkness, the music is just so fun. The solos are great, it just brings you back to a better time. Growing on Me, Friday Nights, and Love is only a Feeling are songs to check out.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    (knock knock) Is this where we’re supposed to come to make fun of Mark? :-)

    I think I can agree with you, as Craig does, but I still can’t stand ‘em. I don’t like the tongue-in-cheek attitude at the expense of the genre. But I love Tenacious D – but I feel like the love from the D for rock is more genuine and heartfelt, where the Darkness are using it because it’s kind of in right now to do this over-the-top ridiculousness. I realize it’s all harmless fun, but it just bothers me that the approach seems more to be from an attempt to make fun, rather than just to have fun making fun music. . . . if that makes any sense. It might not. Ahem.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    really though…does ANY of this have to make sense?

    i can’t even tell if they making fun of these cliches or not.

    it’s funny though.

    don’t worry, i’ll go cleanse my pallet with some King Crimson or something.

  • Anne

    I think I’ll buy the album because I’m impressed with how completely ridiculous they are. They’re aware of this quality and embrace it, to their credit, as you can see in lyrics such as “My heart’s in overdrive and you’re behind the steering wheel.” Priceless.

  • Smenkharon

    Tenacious D and Spinal Tap are bullshit comedy acts-not rock n’roll! The Darkness truly are what rock n’ roll is all about. Rock music has always and should divide the masses into lovers and haters. If Tenacious D had more love for rock than the Darkness they would put out a rock album instead of an unfunny comedy album. The Darkness has brought life back into a genre that had forgotten how to have fun!

  • Chris

    I ran out and bought this the first tiem my cousin let me listen to the CD…why? I’m a classic rock guitarist by heart, and I *love* the 80’s hair metal. It exaggerates the showy-ness of rock ‘n’ roll and brings music back to…well, music. I was planning on starting a band based on ridiculous 80’s hair metal also, and these guy’s success has encouraged me!

  • http://www.google.com Alan

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.