Recently a conversation took place between my fellow drunkards and myself regarding “guilty pleasures” bands/artists. Now, I’ll freely admit, I don’t have many guilty pleasures as far as music is concerned – I let my mediocre music freak flag fly high. I’ll drop it like it’s hot, get you love drunk off my humps, hollaback, and be a Dancing Queen. One of my (not so) guilty pleasures bands is THE DARKNESS. Yes. The Darkness. Over the top videos? Check. Bad 70’s Hair? Check. Tight Lycra body suits opened to the nether regions? Check. Yep, you get the whole package with The Darkness. I will shout it from the rooftops – I LOVE THE DARKNESS! In all it’s silly grandiosity, I love this band. Formed in 1999, fronted by brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain on bass and Rufus Taylor on drums. Justin has the essence of Robert Plant and the flamboyance and mock operatic voice of Freddie Mercury. Not since David Lee Roth has someone been able to rock skin tight Lycra like Justin. Their over the top videos are just ludicrous and absurd, although highly entertaining. Lightening bolts from guitars, silly costumes, stuffed animals. They have all the kitsch that makes a really bad video a really great one.
ALBUM: Permission to Land, The Darkness, Atlantic Records, 2003
This album came out in 2003 but it has such a 70’s/80’s throwback feel to it. When this album was released, rock and roll was taking itself waaaay too seriously. I think that is what appeals to me with The Darkness and bands like them. The theatrics. The imagery. The legit guitar work and great lyrics. There’s no heartbreaking shit on this album. Sure, it’s laden with overzealous singing and there are some power ballads, but it’s fun. The songs are catchy, riff laden and campy.
The album starts off with the hard hitting Black Shuck, which sounds like it was heavily influenced by AC/DC. It’s a song about a ghostly black dog that roams the English isles. “Black shuck – that dog don’t give a fuck.” I love things that give zero fucks.
Get Your Hand’s Off My Woman opens with Justin’s falsetto and some solid rock riffs. It just commands you to bop around to the music. Yeah, I said bop. So what? He doesn’t own her, but you better get your hands off his woman muthafuckaoooooh (that’s really how he sings it – try it. Sing it just like that). If you don’t, all 110 lbs of him will beat you down. It’s a rock song if ever there was a rock song. His high pitched extension of ‘you cuuuuuuuunt’ is pretty amazing too. Not too many people can pull off singing that word with such exuberance. I have no qualms about singing this in the office. Growin On Me – haha! You ever see a stuffed pterodactyl get it on with a mothership? NO? Well go watch this video! Sometimes you get attached to someone – they grow on you. Or sometimes said person may actually be genital warts. You can’t make this shit up, people!
The illustrious, melodic I Believe In a Thing Called Love – There’s no humanly possible way you can’t love this song. Oh sure, mention it and get a wealth of eye rolls, but there are plenty of closeted fans of this song! Give someone a few beers or shots and they’ll be belting out this shit like they wrote it. “I want to kiss you every minute, every hour, every day You got me in a spin but every-fin is A.O.K”
Love Is Only A Feeling is actually one of their less absurd videos and songs, although still cheesy with it being set in the outdoors. I’ve never understood why bands shoot videos on mountain sides or in deserts. I mean, unless you have a kick ass generator and major yards of cables, you’re not gonna be able to plug that shit up anywhere. And you’re playing to quite a stoic audience. Animals can be bastards. Giving Up is a song about shooting up. Really. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a catchier tune about shooting up and not caring a lick if you live or die. But I guess if you dropped $150k on blow you’d be pretty peppy too. Stuck in a Rut – “oh kiss my ass. Kiss my ass goodbye!” – half the time I have no clue what he’s saying in this song but man, is it good song. Listen for the part later in the song where he sounds like a raving lunatic. It’s quite good. Friday Night is a total trip back to high school. He sings about being busy through the week and come Friday he’s ready to dance. Wait? It’s Friday – I’m in love. No, but he reminds me of Robert Smith singing this song. For real. There’s a very Cure-esque vibe to this song. Love On The Rock With No Ice. Just like I like it. Straight up and neat. Oh the sweet, power ballad Holding My Own. A real tear-jerker. LOL – It’s a jerker alright, but not the kind you think. He’s singing about, literally, holding his “OWN“. I’ll give you a second to think about it. Cleaning the rifle. Manual override. Lately I’m doing what I can do to pleasure me, I’m finding time to focus on my fantasies, I’m satisfied in my own company, I don’t need your permission, To take this matter in my own two hands. Yeah, so….This album culminates with Makin’ Out with a great guitar solo/intro and ending with the requisite 80’s rock style drum/guitar finale.
Behind all the shtick and absurdity, these guys are some top notch musicians. This kind of rock is rare to find these days. Arena rock, glam rock, whatever you want to call it, few find what The Darkness has. They may be walking hard rock clichés, but no one can say they aren’t entertaining. For a band that has had the shelf life of an avocado, they’re still kicking. In fact, they’re touring now. I plan to see them. They make me thirsty for good old, fun, rock and roll. So, Give me a tall glass of Love on the Rocks. No ice.
BEER: Bell’s Brewery, Smitten, Golden Rye IPA, Kalamazoo, MI – 6% ABV
Birds chirping, buds on the trees (not that kind of bud), warm breezes and a blue label with a one petaled daisy! The sure fire signs of spring! Bell’s seasonal, Smitten is a Golden Rye IPA that tastes like a bottle of happy birds in the springtime. Yes, it really does. I should know, I’ve bottled happy birds and it tastes just like this. This is a Rye IPA – what does that mean? It means it has rye malt. What does that mean? It means it’s delicious, man! Anything rye is delicious – bread, whiskey, The Catcher in the…, and most of all beer. It’s so smooth and not bitter like you would think a rye ale would be. Maybe you wouldn’t think that, but I thought that. Taken from one of Bell’s oldest recipes, Smitten is citrusy with floral hints – no that doesn’t mean it tastes like a daisy. It’s from the hops and just kind of “earthy”. Scene: You’re stuck in fluorescent hell all day. It’s a perfect 68 degrees outside. You look longingly out the window. Quittin’ time rolls around, you boogie your ass on home, throw open the windows and crack one of these open and take your dogs out on the porch to drink a Smitten. That’s what kind of beer this is. It’s easy drinking with a 6% ABV (sorry, couldn’t find anything on the IBUs). I’m not aware of any other Golden Rye IPA’s so kudos to Bell’s for being progressive! You know what? I’m going to have another one and listen to The Darkness because I am definitely Smitten.