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Album Reviews : The Darkness – Pinewood Smile

By on September 28, 2017

I personally left the old-school, blues-based hard rock sound literally decades ago. It’s a style that has been beaten to death, had its lifeless corpse attempted to be resuscitated several times, only to be put down again, over and over for 40 years or more.

Bands that attempt to do something different with the sound, and actually pull it off, are very few and far between. Fortunately, the UK’s The Darkness are one of that very rare breed, and this, their fifth album, throws plenty of shit at the tired old formula. And much of it sticks.

Pinewood Smile opens in pretty typical style with the rollicking, bass-driven All the Pretty Girls, and Solid Gold sounds like a AC/DC cast-off from 30 years ago, however the album takes the listener a number of relatively unexpected twists and turns across the course of its 36 minute length. Japanese Prisoner of Love is equal parts Queen and Thin Lizzy, Why Don’t the Beautiful Cry and Lay Down With Me, Barbara all schmaltzy blues (the latter having a very 70s feel to it. In fact, that decade of music infiltrates the entire album), and closer Stampede of Love is just an oddity, although a highly enjoyable one. It’s west coast acoustic folk gives way to a big-rock chorus and solo approximately half-way though, and then, completely out of the blue, to a brief moment of slamming thrash to see the song out.

Best track award though, goes to I Wish I Was in Heaven. Its barrelling pace is offset by the sheer beauty of its melodies, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best tunes they’ve done.

And it’s all done with that typically Darkness-esque tongue in cheek sense of humour. The fact that they don’t, and have never, taken themselves too seriously is very much part of this band’s charm and ensures that their albums are always a fun listen.

Another constant is the off the charts wail of frontman Justin Hawkins, and he is in stellar form here, his voice lifting to the very heavens.

Pinewood Smile is a fun, funny, punchy and surprisingly varied rock n roll ride.

Band: The Darkness
Album: Pinewood Smile
Year: 2017
Genre: Rock
Label:  Cooking Vinyl
Origin: England

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.