Back in 2003, British hard rock act THE DARKNESS took the world by a storm with their monster hit, “I Believe In a Thing Called Love.” The song charted worldwide, becoming a top-10 hit in many countries around the globe. The rock quartet was one of the bands that put hard rock music back on the map and have done so ever since the release of their debut effort, “Permission To Land.” Now, the four-piece are ready to release their 7th full-length album, “Motorheart,” on November 19th, 2021, via Cooking Vinyl.
Analyzing the title of this record is pretty easy, as the band had named the album after the fact that title track, “Motorheart,” sounds like it could be a MOTÖRHEAD or a HEART song. That’s also how this album opens, with a Lemmy Kilmister-esque bass riff. “Welcome Tae Glasgae” is a pretty standard THE DARKNESS track, once again expressing their love for Scotland. The band blends folk elements (eg. bagpipes) into their rock sound, giving it a more Scottish heart. It’s a pretty light-hearted intro and thus sets the perfect atmosphere to “Motorheart” as a whole: a fun-loving, positive hard rock feast that makes you instantly forget about the world around you!
“It’s Love, Jim” is one of those tracks were singer Justin Hawkins explores ultrasonic spectrums with his incredible falsetto – a song that is truly worth cranking the volume up for! I almost can’t wait for this song to permanently damage my hearing. The tempo rises with “Motorheart,” which truly combines the best elements from the legendary MOTÖRHEAD, while interlaced with the melodic sweetness of HEART. An interesting combination, but it works on so many scales. On top of the music, Hawkins wrote the cheekiest lyrics he has ever written down – the song is about a sex robot after all. This song works on so many levels.
A bit slower than the rest is the mid-paced “The Power and the Glory of Love,” which feels like a more standard THE DARKNESS track. Before it fully winds down, you are served with an A-class guitar solo and the vocals go off the charts. Continuing with the brilliant “Jussy’s girl,” THE DARKNESS focus on yet another banger of a track with a powerful hooky chorus and a killer bridge. Somehow I’m taken back to the band’s debut album, as this track has “Friday Night” vibes. When Justin sings “walk away” in “Sticky Situations,” it’s entirely the opposite of what you feel like while listening to this sweet, slightly more mellow song. While the song seems a little bit like filler at first, in combination with the hard-hitting “Nobody Can See My Cry,” it works very well to create a beautiful juxtaposition between soothing and stimulating. Incidentally, “Nobody Can See My Cry” is perhaps one of my favorite tracks on this record. The vocals and main melody sound like the “Permission to Land”-era, while the tempo and guitar work is a bit heavier.
While I certainly don’t know the good places in England, I’m pretty sure that “Eastbound” is the general answer to that question. I specifically love the drum fills midway through, when you believe prematurely that the has song ended, plot twist! THE DARKNESS still come back for another round of the catchy chorus, after which drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor again shows his incredible style. The biggest surprise of this record was perhaps “Speed of the Nite Time.” The track is a Goth rock -influenced ’80s song, in which we see a constrained Justin Hawkins singing in a different way we’re used to, proving that even a band like THE DARKNESS still have some tricks up their sleeves. During the chorus, the song grows in strength with an incredible atmospheric choir; this section is repeated towards the end of the song with the obligatory guitar solo, but somehow it makes this track very progressive in nature and I’m loving it!
Having followed THE DARKNESS since 2003, I can say that this record is definitely what I needed to hear right now. I don’t think there’s anyone in this world right now who hasn’t been feeling the strain of the pandemic and if there’s one band that can turn that frown into an instant (slightly disturbing) smile, then it’s THE DARKNESS! It’s almost as if the band made it their mission to cheer up everyone in the world at the same time and in that sense, they definitely succeeded. They even managed to avoid adding a cheesy ballad! Instead, we’re served nine uncompromising songs, relying on the band’s trustworthy gimmicks: unbelievable vocals, incredible guitar solos, a top-notch rhythm section, and fun-loving, good-spirited, humor-filled songs. Will this band ever cease shitting out solid gold?!
- Welcome Tae Glasgae
- It’s Love, Jim
- The Power and the Glory of Love
- Jussy’s Girl
- Sticky Situations
- Nobody Can See Me Cry
- Speed of the Nite Time
Justin Hawkins – vocals
Dan Hawkins – guitar
Frankie Poullain – bass
Rufus Tiger Taylor – drums