One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back

The Darkness

Atlantic, 2005

http://thedarkness.co.uk

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/02/2006

It’s always interesting to look back on the music we loved a few years ago and sometimes, you can’t help but wonder What was I thinking? Why was I so fascinated by the Macarena and N*SYNC and…is that a Baha Men CD?

Now, tack The Darkness onto that list, who hit it big with their over-the-top, straight-out-of-the-70s glam debut, 2003’s Permission To Land. Building their sound with layered guitars, vocal harmonies and cat suits ripped straight from Queen (with some AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Def Leppard thrown in, too), the Brits (formed by lead singer Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins on guitar, bassist Richie Edwards and Ed Graham on drums) were also quick to polarize listeners; there were those who despised Hawkins' screeching vocals, and then there was me, loving The Darkness because they were just like the shiny new version of my favorite band, Queen.nbtc__dv_250

And then came the lead single “One Way Ticket” with its pan-flute intro, decent chorus, and, yes, Hawkins drifting in and out of his signature falsetto. There’s also enough multi-tracking to put you straight back into A Night At The Opera, which is likely courtesy of producer Roy Thomas Baker, mastermind of Queen gems such as Sheer Heart Attack, Queen II and the aforementioned Opera (not to mention working with The Cars, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne, just to name a few). The song is typical Darkness fare, but ended up being enough to make me track down the album.

And just like buying countless of Now! compilations, it was a mistake; one listen made me realize that track one, “One Way Ticket,” was probably the highest point the album would get to. And even though I wore my uncle’s copy and my own of Permission To Land into the ground, I’ve probably played this album twice since its release.

So what happened? For me, it was the fact that nothing had changed since Permission To Land. The lyrics are cheesy, borderline idiotic, like on “Knockers:” “I love what you’ve done with your hair / I really love what you’ve done with your hair” (how’s that for a chorus?). But even that’s topped by the aptly titled “Bald,” which turns out to be an entire five minutes dedicated to hair loss, even going so far as to cop the line Bono made famous from Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”

While their last album had some fantastic hooks to make up for Hawkins’ wailing, One Way Ticket doesn’t even have that; plus, how long can you lift your guitar work from Brian May and pass it along as something original? Even songs that start out promising, like “Dinner Lady Arms,” inevitably end up deteriorating. And while the posturing absurdity of their image might have entertained for one album, this one just piles on the strings and the multitracking and solos until even just a few minutes, let alone its half-hour runtime, is exhausting. One Way Ticket gets redeemed for its title track alone, but otherwise, there’s not much else.

Rating: D-

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