Music Review: The Darkness - One way ticket to hell...and back

First up - don't let the name fool you.

This was my first attempt at listening to Indie Music, a genre known for its unpredictable nature. The Rhymebawd swears by Indie music, though, so far, I've ignored most of his recommendations.

The group, named 'The Darkness' hints at a death metal influence, and scope for headbanging; it's misleading. The title of the album is more appropriate, cause their music is very rock and roll, and reminiscent of Meatloaf. Here's a song by song review of the album as I listen to it for the second time:

The Darkness - One way ticket to hell...and back

1. One way ticket: Begins is a fusion-like fashion with a flute, a few sniffles and some bass guitar strumming. Suddenly breaks into a rock-and-roll sound that is at times Rolling Stones, and Meatloaf. Meatloaf is an obvious inspiration, particularly the chorus. Breaks in the middle for some nice lead solos that sound much like sitars. Strange and unusual tuning.
2. Knockers: Interesting choice of name for a song. The drumming and manner of singing is Peter Gabrielish, while the chorus is INXS-like. The group seems to lack a singular identity.
3. Is it Just Me?: A continuous bass sound in this song makes it sound like cross-over period that existed in the early nineties, when music switched over to grunge. Not really Pearl Jam. Roxette?
4. Dinner Lady Arms: has a very 'Fleetwood Mac' beginning, and an ambient sound of sorts where nothing in particular takes control of the sound - the drums, the bass, cymbals, lead and vocals are just there. Nothing stands out. I never did like Fleetwood Mac for this very reason. Even when there is a lead solo.
5. Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time: Think Goo Goo Dolls and then suddenly switch to boy band whining. Perhaps this is a little too unkind, but there it is.
6. Hazel Eyes: Interesting Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Japanese sound in the beginning, before some lead strumming. Then suddenly, incoherent lyrics burst through and end up in a very brit-pop, Christmas Carol wailing (think Blur - Country House). Ugh. The guitar solos seem out of place, as does the marching band drumming. Ugh again. Next song, cant take this wailing.
7. Bald: BALD? Who would name a song BALD? Anyhoo, on to the music. The song begins with a decidedly rock bass, but the vocals keep fluctuating between 'terrible' and 'apt'. Think Freddie Mercury wailing. This song really doesn't know its genre. Very experimental sound that is at once
8. Girlfriend: Uff, the vocals really suck. Again, a very rock and roll and brit pop sound. Almosy sugary sweet and wannabe boybandish. Next song please.
9. English Country Garden: This must be an English band, and Blur (their excellent self titled album notwithstanding) is an obvious influence. This isn't one of Damon's experiments, is it? Could well be. All this squealing is getting on my nerves. Next song.
10. Blind Man: Probably the most promising beginning. I've decided that I don't like the vocals because his voice isn't gruff enough. This is the only soft song, so far, and Elton John seems to be singing. Hmm...reminds me of Bohemian Rhapsody and George Michaels, for some strange reason. For once, a song that sounds sober.

The vocals are too high pitched and lack the clarity of, say, The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, to really make one sit up and take notice. I can't really comment on the lyrics: Amazon claims that they're explicit and this Guardian review (which gives it 4/5 stars) states that the lyrics make light of the lead singers cocaine addiction. I would never have noticed, really, because the vocals are distracting. I wonder how it got the 4/5 rating:
The worst sound on Hazel Eyes is an electronic effect that makes the lead guitar resemble bagpipes. For purposes of comparison, the song helpfully offers up a duel between the bagpipes and the lead guitar that resembles bagpipes. The latter is thus revealed not just as the worst sound on Hazel Eyes, but incontestably the worst sound you will hear this year, or indeed any other year the Darkness chose to deploy it.

In all fairness, this album is worth a listen for the music it reminds you of: the music is truly 'inspired', and is a mix of several genres, though not necessarily eclectic. It lacks an original feel and a unidirectional focus. Like writing sometimes fails for the lack of a good editor, this album fails for the lack of a good producer.

Any Indie music reccos?
5 Comments:
Blogger Rhymebawd said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 02, 2005 4:02 am  
Blogger Rhymebawd said...

Since questions (seemingly) have been raised about our musical taste, we feel bound to stand up and defend ourself. :-P

We will make it clear, above all, that we do not "swear by" Indie music, or any genre in particular. We will also make it clear that "The Darkness" wasn't one of our recommendations...

Having got that out of the way and having heard "One way ticket to hell... and back" we have to say we mostly agree with your assessment... the band hasn't found it's sound... unless the lead singer's voice is it's sound. Still, we did not think the voice was as bad as you make it out to be... I guess you like it or you don't. Doesn't really suit every song though.

Stand out tracks... well... the first one... and also "Hazel Eyes", if only because it's only the second song (after Blur's "Girls & Boys") that has managed to make me laugh out loud... at the music (and before you start agreeing, Nik - I mean that in a good way).

And yes... they are British.

(And we're not going to recco anymore until you ask nicely :-P)

December 02, 2005 4:05 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Well, I was just about to add a line to the post that they didn't sound half as bad on a third listen. That was until, ironically, 'Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time' began. The first few songs are bearable, but after that the vocalists' coke kicks in. :P

No, it wasn't one of your reccos, BUT that voice is whiny. Hazel Eyes is *weeeeeeeird*. Umm...didn't make me laugh out loud. Cringe is more like it. :P

I wasn't too kind on BMRC initially, if you remember, but this band makes BMRC sound great! Hell, the Scott Strapp debut album sounds fantastic all of a sudden. It is quite good, actually. A good voice makes a helluva difference.

I say, were you actually standing up while typing this? And who's nicely? :P

December 02, 2005 4:44 am  
Blogger Dan Husain said...

Ok! Your piece completely dissuades me to buy this album. :-)

Your comment on my poem is surprising. You're the first person in four years, since this poem was written, to say that the rhyming seems forced at places. Anyways, I'd read it critically now. Thanks for dropping in Nikhil.

Cheers

D

December 02, 2005 4:47 am  
Blogger Nikhil Pahwa said...

Dan -

To me, the rhymes may have seemed forced because there was no rhyme scheme in the rest of it. The rhyme took the flow to an entirely different, and slightly jarring, level. I refer, in particular, to the lines in bold:

In another dream
I have suddenly tripped over
A murderous thought
That ruthlessly clobbers
Claws, rips apart
This child like innocence
And then vanishes
Like a beautiful woman
Mocking at my pedigree.
I try to break free
But she binds me – her smile
Ravishing, carefree.


I think that 'I try to break free' line kills it for me.

My disclaimer still holds true - I'm no poet. My opinion, though, was honest as always. Cheers.

December 02, 2005 5:07 am  

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