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Album Review: The Darkness return to form with Hot Cakes

This album is a bona-fide return to form for The Darkness, with tightly arranged songs rebooting the ebullient riffage and sastrato-like histrionics that are the band's forte.

The Darkness
Hot Cakes
(PIAS Recordings)

Poised between the classic pop-metal of, say, Def Leppard and the blatant comedy-metal of Steel Panther, the England-formed quartet The Darkness sometimes veer dangerously close to novelty act territory, but they also have great song-craft and a keen understanding of what makes the best hard-rock music tick. Their vibrant, three-million-selling 2003 debut Permission to Land was seized upon by punters hungry for worthy successors to the likes of Van Halen and AC/DC, but their 2005 follow-up, One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back, was as daftly portentous as its title, the group overreaching, overspending and just plain over, after the fraternal linchpins Justin and Dan Hawkins had a falling out. Happily, Hot Cakes is a bona-fide return to form, with tightly arranged songs such as Every Inch of You and She's Just a Girl Eddie, rebooting the ebullient riffage and castrato-like histrionics that are the band's forte. We also get an uproarious take on Radiohead's Street Spirit and a winning, American-style power ballad with some unmistakably English asides: "One more cup of tea and I'm out of here", sings Hawkins on Livin' Each Day Blind.

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