Overall Score: 7/10 Riffs: 8/10 Cheesiness: 9/10 Variety: 6/10 Pros: Strong opening tracks | Some truly fun riffs | Still as cheesy as ever Cons: Possibly too many ballads | Middle section lacking
When The Darkness initially disbanded in 2006, many believed that we’d seen the last of the I Believe In A Thing Called Love hitmakers. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case, and the Lowestoft rockers are now two albums into their comeback with Last Of Our Kind, their follow-up to 2012’s Hot Cakes.
Of all the things you’d expect an album from The Darkness to open with, medieval-sounding narration isn’t exactly one of them. That’s precisely what we get however, opening track Barbarian introducing itself for a good minute or so with Trevor Weston’s over-the-top atmospheric narration, before the main meat of the track kicks in. Then it’s pretty much back to the band’s old cock-rock stylings. Vocalist Justin Hawkins seems out to prove his talent has yet to diminish, dropping bursts of his trademark falsetto vocals at every opportunity, whilst his bandmates drop riff after riff of hard-rock goodness.
Continuing straight into Open Fire keeps the momentum going immensely, its shouty anthemic chorus easily could have fit in on debut album Permission To Land. The track also features some incredible guitar work from Justin and brother Dan Hawkins, who seem to have lost none of their songwriting talent whatsoever.
Title-track Last Of Our Kind opens with shimmering acoustic guitar . It also wields one of the album’s best choruses, simply crying out to be yelled by hundreds of fans at gigs. It also supposedly features ‘236 The Darkness Fans‘ providing backing vocals, which is a nice touch.
Roaring Waters amps the gain back up some more, bringing the rock back to proceedings. A powerful, stomping track, this one sees the whole band at their peak – and it really does sound like the kind of track that got bands like Def Leppard huge radio airplay a few decades back.
Unfortunately, the album takes a sudden drop during its midsection: Wheels Of The Machine, Mighty Wings and Mudslide are all underwhelming tracks compared to the strong opening and are ultimately forgettable in their mediocre balladry and uninteresting riffs.
Hammer & Tongs, meanwhile, is The Darkness epitomised. Laden with tongue-in-cheek innuendo and an effortlessly melodic vocal, the song seems almost certain to become a new fan-favourite with its gleeful smut. Justin Hawkins seems to be having a great time with this one, and it’s quite obvious why.
Closing out the album is Conquerors – a simply sublime ballad, clearly written with stadiums in mind, its soaring guitar solos evoking memories of the 80’s greatest guitar heroes. Featuring a genuinely great turn from bassist Frankie Poullain on vocals, it’s a pretty fitting way to close out the record.
Whilst by no means a perfect album due to the forgettable mid-section, Last Of Our Kind is another solid entry into The Darkness’s back-catalogue, and a definite improvement over the somewhat tepid comeback of Hot Cakes. There’s perhaps too many ballads this time, but the hard-rock fire is clearly still present with The Darkness. Here’s to hoping they can keep it up for a fifth album.
The Darkness’ Last Of Our Kind is out now on Canary Dwarf Records.