Album Review: The Darkness – “Easter Is Cancelled”
Now on their sixth album, there seems to be a pattern slowly emerging with the Darkness’ output. To wit – first album good, second album less so, third album good, fourth album less so, fifth album good… gulp…
Well, I’m happy to report that for the first time in their career, the Darkness have done it and made two decent albums in a row – well done chaps. But Easter Is Cancelled is definitely a bit of an odd beast with plenty of curveballs, as evidenced right from the moment opener Rock ‘n’ Roll Deserves To Die ushers itself in gently with acoustic guitars and mandolin, and the group casting a worried eye over the state of rock ‘n’ roll. This being the Darkness though, they can’t resist eventually piling in with a guitar onslaught and Justin Hawkins’ unmistakable banshee vocals.
Second track How Can I Lose Your Love keeps up the unexpected with a riff-fuelled rush of a verse giving way to a gentle acoustic chorus of all things. Unexpected but definitely an enjoyable listening. Live ‘Til I Die sees the band sailing back into more familiar waters and could easily have slotted in on their debut Permission To Land (think a missing link between Giving Up and Friday Night and you wouldn’t be too far off), while the swaggering Heart Explodes is another highlight with the loping rhythm being backed up by some good guitar work from the Hawkins brothers and a big soaring chorus. Deck Chair meanwhile is pure early Queen indebted silliness (there’s definitely a hint of The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke from Queen II in there) and proves that the Darkness’ trademark sense of humour is very much intact here; there may be a few pretenders to the throne who’ve come along in recent years such as the Struts and Royal Republic, but on this evidence the originals are still very much on top of their game.
The twiddling riff powering along the title track is pure Thin Lizzy with a bizarre venture into almost psychedelic rock territory in parts (for some reason I can’t quite get the image of the old Spinal Tap number Stonehenge out of my head at this point) while Heavy Metal Lover is pure silliness and all the better for it. In Another Life is a big “lighters in the air” anthem in the vein of Love Is Only A Feeling before Choke On It sees them going off on an almost new wave style direction with a riff not a million miles away from Weezer’s Hash Pipe, although Hawkins’ wordplay in the lyrics make this immediately identifiable as a Darkness tune before the acoustic-led slow-burner of We Are The Guitar Men builds up to a big guitars-and-synths climax to sign this one off in good style.
Definitely a bit more complicated than yer traditional Darkness fare, Easter Is Cancelled is nevertheless a good offering from the lads. It may take you a couple of listens to get into (especially if you’re expecting the more straightforward stuff that they made their name with on Permission To Land way back when), but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Certainly the most complex Darkness album to date but no worse for it, "Easter Is Cancelled" sees the band continuing their recent good run of form. The more intricately structured songs might be a bit of a put-off for those who were drawn to the band via more straightforward stuff like "I Believe In A Thing Called Love", but persevere and you'll find plenty of stuff to enjoy here.