Review: The Darkness, ‘Pinewood Smile’

While The Darkness may be most well known for their mega-hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, their catalog represents one of the most solid in all of rock and roll. Fresh off of a tour with Guns and Roses, The Darkness will be looking to expand their dominance throughout 2017 and 2018, and Pinewood Smile proves to be just the tip of the spear.

The album starts with feedback and a fat bassline on “All the Pretty Girls,” and the lyrics remind the listener why this band is so much fun. The lyrics inject a little humor into the rock lyric format by examining the rough and tumble life of have women being attracted to rock stars. Tough subject matter for sure.

“Buccaneers of Hispaniola” introduces a drum and bass groove that steals the musical spotlight, with a sultry guitar line that weaves throughout the song, before moving into a more traditional rock structure with “Solid Gold.” One of the continuously stand-out aspects of this band is their lyrics. They manage to tread a line between self-aware humor, normal rock subject matter, and a subtle combination of the two.

Read Lucas P. Jones’ interview with Frankie Poullain of The Darkness from 2015.

“Southern Trains” is a serious contender for my favorite track, because I’m a sucker for a bitchin’ guitar riff. While the whole album is full of them, this song gives off an old school Rainbow/Light in the Black vibe.

“Why Don’t the Beautiful Cry,” gives the band a chance to show off their softer side, before returning to the up tempo rock we’ve come to love from The Darkness. Sometimes rock albums start to fall flat by the back half of the album, but this is not case on Pinewood Smile. The energy level is high, and the songs never feel generic or boring, right up to the country music tinged “Stampede of Love.”

The Darkness have grown into one of the most talented and versatile bands out there. Every instrument is laser focused on the groove, and the drum/bass timing is locked in on this album. As much as I would like to say that guitar is the most important instrument in a band, the rhythm section with Frankie Poullain on bass and Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums pack the most powerful punch hear. This allows the Hawkins brothers to flow in and out of songs with catchy melodies, interesting riffs, and the over the top showmanship and skill that we’ve come to expect.

I imagine this album is going to have a permanent place in many rock fans collections.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Pinewood Smile by The Darkness will be released on October 6.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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