Permission To Land

The Darkness

Atlantic Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The older I get, the more I realize that there is no accounting for some people's taste. How else can we explain the popularity of Britney Spears? Watermelon-flavored vodka? Hitting yourself in the balls repeatedly with a hammer and calling it music?

In the last case, this seems to be the modus operandi for Justin Hawkins and The Darkness, whose debut album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Permission To Land has been growing in popularity over the last few months. I honestly can't understand why. With sophomoric songs featuring more recycled Queen riffs than a used record store, and Hawkins's vocals which are so high-pitched your dog will yelp in pain, this British quartet dares to be living proof that if you have the right image, any schmuck can land a record contract.

Unless you have the lyrics right in front of you, it's damn near impossible to understand what Justin Hawkins is screeching about. Possibly the music -- provided by guitarist Daniel Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Eddie Graham -- would be a passable tribute to '70s hard rock, but the overreliance on falsetto vocals ends up hurting the cause. Makes me think that King Diamond should come down, kick Justin Hawkins's ass, and show him the right way to use the falsetto.

As it stands, though, Permission To Land is a difficult album to get through once, and is not one you'll want to listen to again after the initial spin. Tracks like "Black Shuck," "Love On The Rocks With No Ice" and "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" all sound too campy to be taken seriously, and come off more annoying than entertaining. This, I don't think, was the band's intention.

Note that I've said nothing about the appearance of the band, including Justin Hawkins's obvious obsession with Robert Plant. I'm no idiot; I know that image is a lot in the music business these days. Too bad, 'cause without their goofy on-stage looks, their music ain't worth shit. Dress these guys up in blue jeans and flannel shirts (and shave that Village People-like moustache off of Poullain) and you've got a band who'll get booed off the stage at your local watering hole.

I know, I'm paid to write about the music, not the image. If only there was more to say about Permission To Land than it should be intercepted mid-air and shot down.

Rating: F

User Rating: D



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.