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The Darkness’ debut could change the face of music

Brian Foy | Wednesday, November 5, 2003

When looking back at music, few bands can be seen that changed the face of music as we know it. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Nirvana immediately come to mind for their unique sound within their own time. However, they are revered not only because of their sound, but because they were able to influence generations of musicians after their inception.

The Darkness might be the new royalty in rock music that changes the face of music. They clearly have a unique, almost retro, sound, but only time will tell the scope of their influence. They are currently under the radar in the States, but rule the United Kingdom with an iron fist. The sound of The Darkness has been called a hybrid of “a gay AC/DC and a straight Queen,” but that is an oversimplification and an injustice to The Darkness. Their debut release Permission to Land is one of the most well crafted and diverse records in recent memory.

Permission to Land, like any great album, explodes from the launching pad with a track that sets the tone for the entire album. “Black Shuck” is full of kick ass riffs and a pounding beat from the bass and drums, but it is the voice of Justin Hawkins that catches the listener off guard. Hawkins’ falsetto voice can only be compared to that of the late Freddie Mercury in terms of sheer power and range. “Growing on Me” ups the ante even more and showcases The Darkness’s entirety as a band. The song builds itself around catchy riffs, but it is the echoes in the chorus and the solo of the bridge that sets this song apart. The song seems to borrow from the classic work of Van Halen stylistically, but the layered sound is all their own.

The true gem on the album is the first single “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The track encompasses everything that The Darkness does well and puts it into one song. The song has elements of Justin’s piercing falsetto voice as well as multiple guitar solos and bridges. The drum and bass beat help round out this track that will surely be a karaoke classic some day. The final song on Permission to Land is The Darkness’s homage to power ballads. The track is simple in structure, but once again the layered precision of the guitars and uniqueness of Justin’s voice make it a jewel.

Only time will tell if the States warm up to the phenomenon that is The Darkness. Permission to Land is one of the strongest debut albums of the last twenty years which may be why The Darkness was able to make their debut via a major label. Permission to Land contains every aspect of a great album with its precision and attention to detail.

It appears as though The Darkness has been able to take the strongest aspects of rock music’s glory days and mold them into their own unique sound. Permission to Land is unlike any album currently out in music today and it may take a listen or two to truly appreciate the scope of The Darkness’s sound. However, once you truly hear the album, there is no doubt it will remain in your library for years to come. So instead of pumping 50 Cent or Outkast at your next party, why not pop in Permission to Land and shake things up.

Contact Brian Foy at bfoy@nd.edu