13 Oct 2007

Have a "Night at the Opera" with your "One Way Ticket"

+ posted by FlamingWhopper

The Darkness & Queen

Pan pipes investigate a distant landscape which is conjured up by the mood in the intro to The Darkness's title track "One Way Ticket." Almost immediately the mood is shattered, like a mirror, when the sound of a snorting nostril rings though as the underlying theme. Then at long last the more culturally familiar sound of grunting, leopard-like, trash-rock power chords blows up in your face like the glamorous powder of stardust.

No doubt operatically falsetto-charged front man, Justin Hawkins, ran straight to the recording booth to lay down this vocal track (as if he had running start to get his overzealous vocal momentum going). His lips part before the microphone in a way that Freddy Mercury taught him thirty years ago during the recording of "Night at the Opera". First of all to create great music, a great predecessor must be present (after all we've only revisited the moon since the first space pioneer landed). Music that evolves from the cave men of "stone"-hard rock can only be a "big bang" in talent.

It's a shame to see the tendency of so many bands these days to recruit members from high school gym classes and eighth grade dances, armed with starter guitars they got with allowance money and simple melodies probably based off of cellular dial tones. The members of "The Darkness", however, definitely prove they graduated from the School of Hard Rock, learning from only the best mentors England has the tendency to furnish. There's no doubt The Darkness wave a hand in impersonally brief side-to-side turns to Queen's majesty in their 10-track reminiscing tribute of an album, "One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back!" Power Ballads galore, disco-reviving vocals abundant, and Brian May-flavored eclectic (and often layered) guitar solos expected; this album rallies everything that made Queen great.

Their Queen-reflected image of glamour can also be seen through Hawkin's mouth, or more specifically his teeth (which make one wonder if he shares Freddy's dentist as well). Mixed with his clichéd image of a rock star's hair, he displays his rhapsody for being a bohemian. He dabbles in more than one of Freddy Mercury's products of choice, one apparently being Tresemme conditioner.

"Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" is the foundational image transcribed onto their musical scroll with mouth-and-guitar shaped quills (holding true to classic rock tradition), however The Darkness don't by any means feel the need to take rock seriously. With constant lyrical irony (one song entitled "Knockers" leads up to a chorus confessing "I love what you've done to your hair"), song titles with clever paradoxical wordplay (such as "Love On The Rocks With No Ice" from Permission To Land), and jocular upbeat lyrics filled with puns, they are more or less a joke band whose music is no joke.

Likewise, Queen's melodies often sounded like a carnival funhouse with merry-go-round guitar licks and Freddy Mercury as the big-mouthed announcer (he even dressed the part in live performances). His lyrics covered such serious issues as "dragon attacks" and his intimate feelings for his car. There is a lyrically lighthearted likeness to Justin Hawkins, who tends to a more uninhibited, bitingly blatant version of Freddy; it's sort of like how Glenn Danzig is Jim Morrison in a Darth Vader costume.

The Darkness is definitely a band to become obsessed with for anyone who's a true Queen fan at heart. The kick-started guitar will rev any old grungy bandy, while the comparative over-produced editing work, and onion-like layers of guitar and vocal tracks on One Way Ticket are sure to sing hello in the key of D to any Queen fan. This album is surely one not to be left in the dark about.

Credit: Ryan Thomas | www.bsccomment.com

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