Hot Cakes review by The Darkness

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  • Released: Aug 15, 2012
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.9 (64 votes)
The Darkness: Hot Cakes

Sound — 7
Who remembers The Darkness? Nine (yes, nine) years ago their multi-platinum debut album "Permission To Land" stormed the charts and reintroduced air guitar, falsetto and tight jumpsuits to the mainstream. Free of pretence and full of tunes, it was a big hit for what was a rather flaccid period in pop music. They eventually went down the VH1 breakup route, allowing Americans Steel Panther to pick up their mantle but, perhaps sensing that cosy 9-5 may never come along while he's wearing 4-inch platforms, Justin Hawkins has gathered up the old band again and together they're rolling the clock back to 1986 via 2003.

Predictably, they've all but lost the hit making touch that propelled them to their original stardom, but this more low-key affair at least draws from many of the same influences Queen, AC/DC and any number of 80s hair bands to similar effect. The vocals are a little less ridiculous and the throttle is noticeably lax at times but as a classic rock pastiche "Hot Cakes" still functions perfectly well.

Highlights include "Concrete", which moves with much more energy than the usual reunion fare, uplifting powerballad "Living Each Day Blind" and, above all, their utterly brilliant cover of Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". With a fully activated no-f*cks-given setting, Hawkins and co. perform a comprehensive glam desecration of the classic ode to hopelessness. Thom Yorke would convulse at the falsetto wails and gratuitous soloing but if there's one moment on "Hot Cakes" where The Darkness temporarily reclaim their OTT, tongue-in-cheek majesty then this is it.

Lyrics — 6
It's fair to say that the Radiohead comparisons start and end there. As you may have guessed from the cover art, which depicts three young women as syrup-drenched pancake topping, "Hot Cakes" is traditionally glam rock in its treatment of women and sex, both a celebration and trivialisation of the fairer half. However, with the exception of the nauseatingly crude opener "Every Inch Of You", ("Every man, woman and child wants to suck my c*ck") the language is not particularly explicit and actually comes off as quite restrained at times, which will be a surprise to those who remember the finer details of "Permission To Land".

Overall Impression — 7
If their reunion tour sales are anything to go by, The Darkness have held onto a core of diehard fans in their home country and a legion of curious onlookers worldwide, and for those who had high hopes for the new material, this album should reap some satisfaction. Let us not forget, though, that this is a reunion album and a reunion album from a band who had limited shelf-life to begin with. It's not to be taken seriously and, frankly, not to be listened to more than a few times but, considering the potential for embarrassment and failure, "Hot Cakes" is actually something of a success.

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm a big fan or The Darkness and I was certain that Hot Cakes wouldn't live up to Permission To Land but I think that it has held up very well. If you ignore the comparisons to Permission To Land it just gets better. I'm quite impressed by the album and it's definitely worth a listen.
    Diamond Dave
    agreed, its a good album but not great. I saw them on their recent Australian tour though and they are KILLER live though. Anyone with even a passing interest should definitely go see the band if you get the chance.
    I honestly feel hot cakes is a perfect in between of One Way Ticket and Permission to Land. Got it yesterday, and it's great! You could really hear Dan's influence alot more on it, and especially of his Thin Lizzy influence. There's alot of lush guitar on the album that has only been touched upon in OWT, and I feel it's brilliant. My favorite band has returned and I couldn't be happier
    Honest review, and objectively true. However I really enjoy this music and the last two albums have become two of my favourite, so this will no doubt become a third. No one quite does what they do .
    Does anyone else find that singles from this one are much worse than the rest?
    Living Each Day Blind is a brilliant track, i was thoroughly impressed by the album as a whole though. Good expenditure of $15.
    Dammit. You got me hooked. I always loved The Darkness since Permission to Land! Who knew anyone still knew how to do Glam Rock and do it right?
    The darkness are not a comedy band like Steel Panther. They are light hearted, and have a joke, but take they are passionate about the music, and wear their musical heart on their sleeve. Don't confuse a serious band who likes a joke with bands that were formed just for comedy reasons.
    Great review I thought - very honest. I'll be checking the album out but tentatively, even more so because of this review. However Im one of the ones who lapped up the reunion tour last year and I have to say they put on a great show. Will definately be checking them out again with the inevitable tour for this, I just hope the inclusion of some of these tracks doesnt take the energy out of the set and they find a way to work them in appropriately.
    If you enjoyed their last two albums, you will enjoy this one as well. The Darkness never fail to release amazing material. Just because they give off a humorous vibe doesn't mean you shouldn't take their music seriously.
    I'm hoping this album is a grower, because I've loved The Darkness in the past, and I really want to like this album. My first listen left a mediocre impression.
    I'm a little torn about this album. On one hand, it's good, fun, rock and roll. On the other hand, the thing I love the most about The Darkness is their masterful riffing. Say what you like about them, Permission to Land had some killer riffs. That is very much lacking here. Stuff like Black Shuck and Love on the Rocks were great because of those awesome riffs. I certainly like the album (I love Living Each Day Blind and Nothing's Gonna Stop Us), I just wish it had a tiny bit more of what made them great in the first place. That said, I'm super stoked the band is back together. Would LOVE to see them live.
    You guys who say, "I came because of the picture" are so immature. There's more to life then sex, you know... or at least, there should be.
    haha, what?, just cause he's a talented singer/songwriter and lead guitarist he should find separate people for the roles cause he gets alot of attention? lol, its called being a frontman. talented ppl like him don't follow 'rules' that limit ppl like u!
    You don't see David Lee Roth playing "Eruption". Hell, Eddie Vedder plays guitar, but who plays the solos? Mcready and Gossard.
    I still don't see your point. All that you're getting across is that you're having a hissyfit because Justin is too talented and should stay as the lead vocalist..... -,-
    No, being a frontman means you are the visual eye of the storm, not the visual AND musical. I have no problem with him playing guitar, but one guy being the lead guitarist and singer in a classic rock inspired band reeks of attention-whoring douchebaggery.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Album's great, but it lacks a 'ballady' song (or power ballad, which is probably more suited), which I think is what really made their first album.
    Bass_Pro 6
    Have you heard love is not the answer and living each day blind?..
    Floyd Phoenix
    I take back what I said. It does seem to be missing something that their first album had though, just can't put my finger on it...
    "i believe in a thing called love" something that sounds like that? I do feel that this wasn't the darkness that was in permission to land... but heck... i listened to all of hotcake's tracks yesterday... im hypnotized
    I love living each day blind! It almost sounds like Justin is singing about his addiction and how he wanted to be sober and leave it behind.. But that's my interpretation of it.
    I was really worried about this after the terrible second record...but I'm really enjoying this one!!
    You are obviously just a mark, a young mark at that. You ain't gonna get far trying to convince an alter boy that a priest's mouth isn't a holy place, and I am not gonna get far trying to get Justin's balls out of yours.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Different bands are allowed to do things differently.... Justin isn't hogging the spotlight, just watch some live videos or interviews. Dan writes a lot and obviously prefers being the rhythm guitarist. As for the music, it's straight-foward, old-fashioned glam rock. It takes someone corrupted by today's industrialised music or someone with extremely limited musical views to not appreciate this. The band is awesome.
    1) Steel Panther are one of the most talente bands on the go. 2) The singer.can't be.the guitar.god also, that's just attention ***** douchbaggery.
    1) True, Steel Panther are awesome, but they're completely different. SP are a comic band, The Darkness aren't, so there's no comparison. 2) If he can sing and play guitar why not? There are tons of bands where the lead singer is also the lead guitar. Also, don't underestimate Dan, he's a great guitarist too.
    'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' was/is pretty good, but everything else they've done is awful.
    Steel Panther do this band's schtick better than they do, and SP are an actual band, with 4 insanely talented musicians within their ranks. The Darkness have one big fanboy who wants to do it all. To each his own, but you know in your heart that what I say in true.
    Steel Panther are metal. The Darkness are Hard Rock. JH was on their first album for christ sake. I think you may have mistaken any "schtick" for just having fun with a tongue placed firmly in their collective cheek.
    All four members of Steel Panther are at the top of their fields. Jay Parrish is an absolute BEAST. Comparing Justin Hawkins to Parrish and Starr isn't even fair. The Darkness are for hipsters, just glorified pop music.
    I'm going to stick my neck out here and assume that you're American, as you can't tell the difference between a band that has a tongue in cheek (like AC/DC all over, "givin the dog a bone" I wonder what that means?!), and a band that has a tongue in a vagina (or arsehole, i dont remember the SP lads being too picky). Dan is the real guitar god in the band. Listen to Silver Spoons & Broken Bones by Stone Gods, there's bits of everything in there, and what's so bad about 2 lead guitars? I dont remember Lizzy being criticised for that. People have said it before as well, The Darkness are Hard Rock, not Glam Metal like Steel Panther. Are AC/DC and Motley Crue the same? No. I've seen Steel Panther more than I have The Darkness, and both are tits live.
    Man, just drop it already. No one agrees with you here. I love Steel Panther too but you're being an *****. The Darkness are just as good as them.
    1) I am not engaging in a war of words with you, as I do not fight the unarmed.
    The unarmed? You mean you? Because all that's coming out of you are pathetic rants and lies out of ignorance. I'd have you know, that Justin does not covet the lime light all to his own. In every single song, there are 2 solos, his brother Dan goes first and Justin goes last. To compare them to Steel Panther who sounds like a pop band now more than anything, shows the depth of your idiocy which is incurable which is already obvious. What you're doing here is just spouting off non sense. We get it. You don' like this band. GET THE FUCK OUT ALREADY
    I fail to see any difference between SP and TD, except that SP does the whole schtick better. How exactly are TD *NOT* a comedy band? What exactly makes SP one? Regarding Justin hogging the spotlight, it's just so obvious that he's a classic type A attention *****. If he truly worshipped the classic rock bands he emulates, he would put the focus on Dan as the guitar god, so they could play off each other. That first video showed me all I needed, an ugly, gangly wannabe with bad teeth in a jumpsuit singing in terrible falsetto, and wanking during the solo. Pass.
    And yet more hissyfits from you. Don't you think posting once was enough? We get it, you hate TD, so get off the page and save yourself the heartaches. Jeesh :-j
    As a long time Darkness fan I loved this album. It won't redefine anything but the music is great, the band sounds fit and it's a lot of fun. Overall a fantastic album. Not up to PtL, but better than One Way Ticket.
    I like the concept of the band, but Steel Panther has this genre locked up stock and barrel. The biggest problem I always had with The Darkness is the fact that the singer is both the strutting frontman, AND the guitar god. This is not how it works. Joe Perry doesn't strut around with a mic stand with scarves on it, and Freddy Mercury doesn't play lead guitar. The singer of the Darkness wants it all, and it MAJORLY takes away from the band.
    Bass_Pro 6
    He doesnt have to be Joe Perry or Freddie Mercury. He's JUSTIN FUCKING HAWKINS! If he were only one or the other then they wouldnt be the darkness.
    so basically, ur telling us, that if Justin Hawkins just appeared to be `limited`, you woud`ve liked the darkness? Is it me or does anyone else find his comment a little juvenile?
    "Steel Panther has this genre locked up stock and barrel" I don't understand you, The Darkness did it first. Not to mention they're parodying the 70's more than they are parodying the 80's like Steel Panther.
    CANNOT stand the vocals.
    So I guess you haven't listened to it, because this has the most conservative vocals of anything they've done. Justin's falsetto is used more as an effect rather than for every line.