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The Darkness: 'Pinewood Smile'
Out Now (Pledge Music)

jeff kunze
Words: Jeff Kunze
11th October 2017

the darkness

The Darkness have uncorked 'Pinewood Smile', which is album number five and marks the recorded album debut of Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of the great Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Adrian Bushy (Muse, Foo Fighters) was enlisted to produce.

The Darkness blend AC/DC with Queen and sprinkle in clever Aerosmith inspired innuendos to create something completely their own and they have never shyed away from the humorous, tongue in cheek lyrics that border between wit and just plain silly.

The album kicks off with plenty of energy, as 'All The Pretty Girls' is a straightforward rocker with a grappling hook and soaring chorus. A title only The Darkness could have, 'Buccaneers Of Hispaniola', is another up-tempo song that doesn't quite roll into form, the big riff hitting before the chorus and continuing until the verse is catchy but the song just doesn't pull you in.

The gem of the album is 'Solid Gold'. The infectious groove carries this sing-along tune to atmospheric levels and the song hits the bullseye on every level. 'Southern Trains' is a brash slap to the face. The gang vocal chorus is down right brutal as the intensity tries to pull this one off the tracks.

The first ballad, 'Why Don't The Beautiful Cry?' touches the tender side of the band. It's a soothing little number that keeps things pretty simple and employs a tasty guitar solo, then it's here we go again with another unique title, 'Japanese Prisoner Of Love', which rides a heavy pulsating opening riff but takes several detours. A melodic chorus and a moment of harmonic bliss give the song an added dynamic. It's hard to figure out if the pieces work together or not, but the song is a real grower.

'Lay Down With Me, Barbara' is another ballad that you may think you have figured out, but there is a powerful punch that adds an unforgettable flavour to the song that really draws you in.

'I Wish I Was In Heaven' keeps to a simple structure with an up-beat tempo and some memorable guitar licks to flesh out the song and the same type of offering is found with 'Happiness', a feel-good number that draws you in with the lyrics and its uncomplicated refrain.

The acoustic closer of 'Stampede Of Love' gives way to the full band providing more layers before fading back to where it began.

Being a huge fan of the last record, on first listen 'Pinewood Smile' didn't jump out at me. The sound seems more stripped down and not quite as vibrant. That being said, the more time spent digging into this album, the more enjoyable it becomes. The Darkness can be hit or miss and this album probably won't be any different. There is plenty of good stuff on 'Pinewood Smile' but you might need to give it some time before reaping its rewards.

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The Darkness:
Justin Hawkins – Vocals, Guitar
Dan Hawkins – Guitar
Frankie Poullain – Bass
Rufus Tiger Taylor - Drums


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