Since their very earliest days, The Darkness have walked a fine line between stupid and clever with such panache, even Charles Blondin would have applauded. With their uniquely British sense of profound silliness, their determination to go over the top and then over it a bit more when they perform, and a truckful of Carry On-style double entendres, their skill has been in returning a sense of fun to rock’n’roll without ever becoming the joke themselves.
That’s largely because for every nod and wink, and every colourful catsuit, they’ve clearly always taken the music extremely seriously, reviving the 80s stadium-rock histrionics they love and rewiring it to light up the seaside town that spawned them.
Said town, Lowestoft, is the setting for Eastbound, one of the later tracks on this seventh album. Featuring a guest cast of frontman Justin Hawkins’s friends and family as they rampage through the seafront pubs, with the same crew that’s been around since childhood, it’s their very own The Boys Are Back In Town.
But the real love is reserved for Scotland in opener Welcome Tae Glasgae (‘The women are gorgeous and the food is okay’), a belter straight out of the blocks that finds Dan Hawkins riffing up a storm and Justin getting that falsetto warmed up to a cacophony of bagpipes and sirens. Sure, the accent he puts on at certain points is pure Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers films, but the affection is genuine.
As ever with a Darkness album, the music and the lyrics go into a battle for supremacy, and once again it’s a draw. Melodies straight from the Van Halen songbook shine from loser anthem Jussy’s Girl, while Queen harmonies elevate Sticky Situations, a song that is exactly as much about wanking as you think it is, hovering over dodgy ground without ever quite landing there.
The gags keep coming with It’s Love, Jim, in which our hero falls for an alien beauty (‘It’s love, Jim, but not as we know it/Wherever she comes from they’ve got a funny way to show it’), and the title track which is – let us not beat about the bush here – about sex with a robot (‘I need a Phillips screwdriver to get her undressed, but she’s mine’). The album fades a little towards the end, but it’s exactly the daft-as-a-brush cheer-up we all need right now.