Oh shit! Did I miss the memo that The Darkness wasn’t awesome anymore? Because it seems I may have. Since when did gnarly coked-out glam rock with face melting guitar solos, outrageous Radiohead covers, and the only voice left in rock ‘n’ roll somewhat comparable to that of THE Freddie Mercury become uncool? I understand music trends in phases and two-chord (sometimes three, if necessary) metalesque glam-rock isn’t exactly trending right now. But are we not due for a revival of sorts? Clearly not everyone could handle the 2005 One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back follow up to the ceaseless perpetual party that was 2003′s Permission to Land after only two years of attempting to sober up from it. I admittedly couldn’t. Neither could the original bassist, Frankie Poullain. Hell, even lead singer Justin Hawkins had to check into rehab after spending £150,000 on cocaine in three years as a result of the pure unadulterated badassery of Permission to Land. But now we are all back, including Frankie and the fresh out of rehab Justin. So crank the volume up to 11, strap yourself in (as to be able to handle the G’s), and “eeeeeeeverybody have a good time!”
True to his form, Justin kicks Hot Cakes right off with a good ole’ fashion “cock” joke in the first lines of the opening track “Every Inch of You”. At first glance, and especially now that you know the context of the first verse, you’d suspect this to be an especially perverted song. Although it is filled with a few fun double entendre’s, this album jump starter is actually more of a biographical tune. I paid for the bonus edition of the album on iTunes, so not only did I get the incredible bonus track “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love”, I also got a two-part video from the band giving a track-by-track commentary of the entire album which explained that this song really exposes us to how Justin perceives himself as a live performer, literally using every inch of the stage for what it’s worth and never sparing an ounce of blood, sweat, or tears. Sounds to me like he is pining for that “hardest working man in show business” title that has yet to be claimed since James Brown passed away.
The album continues on a path of overly theatrical glam-rock delights in which we find ourselves running from the cops and enjoying every second of it (“Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us”), mourning those who fall hopelessly in love without the feeling being returned, leaving nothing but a pit of despair (“She Just a Girl”, “Eddie”), only to eventually remind us that love is not the answer anyways (“Love is Not the Answer”). Every song on this album is so basic at its core that it’s hard to not appreciate each one for what they are; over simplified two-three chord song structures, with simple lyrics that are sometimes goofy but always poignant to the band themselves.
If you had only just read that last sentence and nothing else in this article, you could just as easily thought I was referring to an Arcade Fire album. The difference is that Arcade Fire piles in 8+ more instruments into each song than The Darkness. Mind you they aren’t playing any additional parts, just more instruments. In the eyes of most hipster music mongrels, that somehow translates into them being the “end-all-be-all genius crafters of modern music”, while The Darkness still lives in 2003 with Permission to Land and there other flannel that they wore before that one was cool too. To be perfectly fair, I like Arcade Fire just fine. I do think they are incredibly overrated in most aspects that they are generally praised for, but I guess that’s my struggle … right?
Now that I’ve built this album up so much, it’s about that time for the sad-sack to come in with the bad news right? Yes, it’s got some many greats, but what about the bad’s? Well, with all the exasperating non-stop energy that is exuding from this album and pummeling you like Muhammad Ali in middle of round 1, it can get a little wearing … if your a pu$$y! But if you’re a badass like me, you just crank the volume up louder and keep on rocking.
Ok, I’ve used a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor in this article, but I want it to be clear how much I really love this album. Sure it’s ridiculous, there are about three too many songs on the album, and it’s super over-the-top in most regards. But music is much more than an IQ test. Sometimes I don’t want to be lyrically challenged, or blown away by how complex a piece of music is written or even more how complex it is to play. Sometimes I just want to blast my car stereo and/or headphones as loud as audibly possible without my ear drums bursting and scream some ridiculous lyrics, or the greatest rendition of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” I’ve ever heard at the top of my lungs, all while slaying some air guitar. This is an album I can proudly do that with. Hot Cakes can be summed up with one very simple, very straight forward, very cheesy rock song in which I’ve already parodied once, and am about to quote again. I think it serves as the thesis of the album and I must say, if you can’t enjoy it (especially while watching the below video), you clearly don’t like to have a good time. “Come on baby leave your ego at the door, ’cause we don’t need it anymore … Everybody have a good time! Everybody have a blast! For tonight may be our last.”
^”Take off your thinking cap and listen to your heart!”
Can’t Miss: “Every Inch Of You”, “Living Each Day Blind”, “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”, “Love Is Not the Answer”
Can’t Hit: “Forbidden Love”, “Concrete”