With their knack for crafting memorable glam rock tunes and lead singer Justin Hawkins' soaring Freddie Mercury-like falsetto the Darkness had a very bright-looking future when their debut album Permission to Land and its massive hit single "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" stormed onto the charts in 2003. Hawkins however couldn't handle the trappings of rapid stardom and succumbed to a drug-fueled breakdown that took the band out of commission for the better part of a decade. Now seven years after their last album Hawkins and his band are back with the very impressive Hot Cakes and sounding like not a day has passed since all the hoopla of their strong debut. Hawkins addresses the lengthy hiatus in the album's opening track "Every Inch of You," lamenting how he's missed performing, partying and meeting fans, especially the girls who want to, uh, "inflate" his "ego." The song will have to be bleeped to get on the radio but the offending line, which Hawkins sings joyfully in his highest falsetto, will no doubt have those of a frat boy mindset testing their pipes as they chime in. But the band really pulls out all the stops with the absolute masterpiece "Nothin's Gonna Stop Us," a surefire Queen-informed hit with a sing-along chorus full of layered harmonies that (blasphemy!) out-Queens Queen at the top of their game. The Queen-love is rampant throughout; "Street Spirit" even has guitarist Dan Hawkins playing a hot solo in the style of Brian May. Almost every song here has the potential for serious airplay, especially "She Just a Girl, Eddie" and "Love is Not the Answer" and fans will be able to enjoy this one all the way through without hitting the skip button. Over and over again.
The Darkness - Hot Cakes