Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Jan. 16, 2004
The DarknessPermission to Land (Atlantic) The Darkness: novelty, curiosity, anachronism, or the latest saviors of pure, unadulterated R-O-C-K? While Yanks, provided they care at all, tend to view the four British lads as some combination of the first three, the band has hit their native land like one of their powerhouse riffs. Permission to Land -- the first debut LP to top the UK charts since Coldplay's Parachutes -- is all Justin Hawkins' Freddie Mercury-like falsetto piled upon acres of creamy Marshall-stacked goodness. Campy? To be sure. Derivative? Absolutely. But cock-rock of this sheer magnitude and pomposity has been dormant at least since "Smells Like Teen Spirit" washed away "November Rain," so who really cares? Hawkins is a born rock god, blessed with the vocal range of Mariah Carey and the raffish good looks of a young Roger Daltrey, and his mates -- brother Dan on lead guitar, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Ed Graham -- obviously graduated top of their class from the AC/DC academy of sauciness. Opener "Black Shuck" and "Stuck in a Rut" in particular have that extra High Voltage kick, not to take anything away from the scissor-kicking intensity of "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" or catchy (so to speak) STD romp "Growing on Me." Permission only stumbles on tepid power ballad and closer "Holding My Own"; perhaps they can bring in Mutt Lange for the next go-round. Spinal Tap analogies would be much too obvious, but Permission to Land practically demands to be played at 11. Otherwise, why even bother?