Once upon a time, The Darkness reigned supreme over the glam rock revival of the noughties, torch-bearers of the glittering catsuit resurgence. One failed Christmas chart-topper challenge, a turbulent split, the absence of bassist Frankie Poullain and three drummer changes later, any other band would call it quits. Admitting defeat has never been their modus operandi, as the Lowestoft quartet return for their fourth studio journey with Emily Dolan Davies on drums. Having recently announced her departure, however, Davies’ session among their number spans only the recording and initial promotion of this record, while Rufus Taylor, the son of Roger Taylor, continues their tribute to Queen, the driving force behind their existence.
Punchy opener ‘Barbarian’ skilfully leads the charge into the emphatic, riff-driven rock they know best. Maintaining Dan Hawkins’ Queen-inspired fretwork, ‘Open Fire’ simultaneously introduces a down-to-earth tone to Justin Hawkins’ traditionally high-pitched vocals.
Denouncing the classic rock revivals that refuse to take their craft as seriously as The Darkness, the title track reflects that “we are the last of our kind.“ Amidst the wealth of parody-laden, spandex-donning showmen, frontman Justin demonstrates his consummate versatility that remains forefront of the band’s consistent progression.
“This is the end, the universe has brought you here to die,” claims ‘Mighty Wings’, an existential far cry from the immature lyrical content of ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ and ‘Giving Up’. Bearing a show-stopping solo to accompany a true 1980s synth vibe, this rousing epic characterises their regeneration in all its multi-faceted glory.
As sassy and confident as they come, the quirky ‘Mudslide’ guides into ‘Sarah O Sarah’, a lingering ode to a love reminiscent of ‘Hazel Eyes’. Continuing the reflective legacy of ‘Seemed Like A Good Idea’, the sultry tones of ‘Roaring Waters’ stand shoulder to shoulder with ‘Wheels Of The Machine’, a contemplative ode to days gone by. The Darkness have blazed a trail through all of classic rock’s fond traditions, maturing to accommodate the years of bitter experience.
Showcasing Justin’s indomitable vocal range, ‘Hammer And Tongs’ bursts through as bold and contagious as only they know how. Lighter-waving anthem ‘Conquerors’ presents a fitting curtain call for a record that’s seen the quartet evolve beyond expectation, while steadfastly maintaining the appeal that garnered their popularity and respect in the first place.
‘Last Of Our Kind’ is the brainchild of a tumultuous period for the classic rockers. A defiant refusal to be pigeon-holed by their gimmicks, The Darkness continue to mature and compel long after the critics assumed they would fall.
’Last Of Our Kind’ by The Darkness is out now on Kobalt.
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Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)