Ahh, The Darkness, truly the dictionary definition of a marmite band. People either love them and their ridiculous ways or absolutely, positively, no qualms about it, fucking despise them! Well, here at Castle Worship Metal we have to admit to holding a special place in our cold dead hearts for Justin Hawkins and his merry band of rabble rousers and now, three albums into their comeback, The Darkness’ fifth album is upon us….but did Pinewood Smile make us, um, smile?
Anyone with even a passing interest in rock knows exactly what to expect from The Darkness and it’s a pleasure to confirm that all those classic influences are present and correct. From Queen-style bombast, to Thin Lizzy worshipping dual guitar lines, a dollop of AC/DC style smut and more catchy choruses than you’d find on a Def Leppard greatest hits compilation, all the necessary traits are embellished and embraced.
While Justin Hawkins usually gets the lions share of attention thanks to his vocal histrionics etc, the real stars of Pinewood Smile are newish drummer and son of Roger, Rufus Taylor and Dan Hawkins. Rather than the perfunctory drumming of previous releases, Rufus has his Dad’s eye for flair and helps drive the album along at a whip-crack pace. The other star is, of course, guitarist Dan Hawkins. The man rarely gets any credit but Hawkins Jnr is a stellar guitarist who has written some cracking riffs in his time and this album is no exception.
As for the all-important songs, the album is definitely front-loaded with the good un’s and “All The Pretty Girls”, “Solid Gold” and “Southern Trains” are all top notch bangers, laced with innuendo and primed to be sung aloud in each and every venue the band grace. The quality fades as the album progresses but Pinewood Smile is by no means a disaster because of it!
The simply fact of it is this: If you’re not a fan of The Darkness already then Pinewood Smile will not, in any way, shape or form, change your opinion of them….and that’s your loss you grumpy bunch of curmudgeons! It may not reach the highs of Permission To Land, or quite match the thrills of 2015’s Last Of Our Kind, but Pinewood Smile still maintains the quality delivered since their comeback in 2012 and there’s plenty here to slap a smile on your face, if you’re willing to let it! 7/10