The Darkness
One Way Ticket To Hell And Back


3.0
good

Review

by Mr. Lean Mug USER (112 Reviews)
May 30th, 2006 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Ah, The Darkness. What’ve these operatic, flamboyant lads been up to since their 2003 debut Permission to Land conquered the world? Well, changing their lineup for one thing. During May of 2005 founding bassist Frankie Poullain left the band due to “musical differences" (Poullain disputed this version of the events, claiming that he was “frozen out" of the bands’ decision making). In June of 2005, Richie Edwards, former guitar technician to rhythm guitarist Dan Hawkins, was announced as Poullain’s replacement. However, due to the relatively late addition of Edwards to the band, he really had no effect on the songwriting for the album (contrary to semi-popular belief). The person most responsible for The Darkness’ ambitious new goals was producer Roy Thomas Barker, most notable for his work with Queen. With Barker at the helm, vocalist Justin Hawkins’ Freddie Mercury aspirations hit dizzying new heights. In addition to this, The Darkness also chose to experiment with new instruments including: sitar, Hammond Organ, triangle, tubular bells, as well as a variety of synthesizers.

Naturally, this led to an eclectic mix of new options for The Darkness to explore. Unfortunately, this might not have worked out in their best interests. One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back is a good album. It nails everything you loved about The Darkness before, and expands outward from their. However, many of these expansions just don’t quite mesh with the hard rock that The Darkness play. Take the title track for instance: “One Way Ticket" is a great song. Starting with the sounds of a person snorting cocaine, it accents the anti-drug message of the song on the whole. Great lyrics and hard guitars come next. Even the chorus is catchy. However, just when you feel the song needs a lightning speed, rocking guitar solo, “One Way Ticket" throws you a curve ball: a sitar solo. While it’s certainly different, it just doesn’t sync too well with the song. It’s a minor quibble, and if you look past it, you’ll find that “One Way Ticket" is a fun song, and a perfect way to open an album.

“Knockers" is probably one of the weakest songs on the album. I can remember my first impressions when I first heard this song upon my purchase of this album. They went something like: “Damn, I can’t believe I just spend $12.99 on this." ‘Is It Just Me?" doesn’t do much to alleviate such thoughts. Both songs are rather boring, and uninspired. The low points of One Way Ticket to be sure. Of course, this means it can only go up from here, right? Yes, and it goes up very high. “Dinner Lady Arms" is one of the best songs on the album. From the fantastic intro to the great lyrics, “Dinner Lady Arms" represents how well The Darkness can write songs, just as its direct predecessors represent how poorly than can. ‘Dinner Lady Arms" leads into the first “ballad" of One Way Ticket, the mournful, regretful, and (slightly) boring “Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time." Slower and less poppy than the former songs, “Seemed" is a great change of pace for One Way Ticket. Its highlight would have to be the fantastic breakdown. Excellent guitar work right there.

Ah, the climax of One Way Ticket is upon us: “Hazel Eyes." This is by far the pinnacle of the album. “Hazel Eyes" has all the right ingredients: the vocals, the music, the lyrics. Everything just comes together in perfect synergy. Aside from that, it’s also one of the funnier songs on the album. Next up, we have the comical “Bald." This hard rocker is as simple as it sounds: it’s a song about male-pattern baldness (which hereditarily afflicts Darkness front man Justin Hawkins [as well as his brother, Dan, who doesn‘t bitch about it all over the media]). “Girlfriend" is another one of the comedy songs. Hawkins’ voice reaches incredible new heights on this one. He wants to be the 21st Century Freddie Mercury, and he may not have much competition after recording this song (and consequently making it One Way Ticket’s third single).

The nonsensical “English Country Garden" continues the nonsensical Queen-esque notions of The Darkness. At first, I wasn’t impressed by this song, but I allowed it to slowly grow on me. Everything from the soaring vocals, to the (somewhat vulgar) lyrics, to the excellent instrumentation make this one of the stand-out tracks from One Way Ticket. So, how does The Darkness’ sophomore release finish up? With a bang? Or a soft note, much like its older sibling, Permission To Land? Definitely a soft note. “Blind Man" really isn’t that good of a song, though. It’s boring and tries too hard to be emotional. A disappointing end to a fair album.

One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back is not another Permission to Land. For one thing, it isn’t even remotely as good. It fails in too many new areas, while it succeeds in too few. The Darkness need to stop screwing around with new instruments and techniques and get back to what they do best: making great hard rock. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t attempt to evolve into something new, it just means that they need to take a page from the hair metal icons of the 80s, rather than the progressive bands. It all comes down to a very simple (yet aptly appropriate in so many cases) phrase: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it." Well, it wasn’t broken, Darkness, but now you should fix it.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Great review as per usual, but I can't find this album to be good in any context. It's just so...The Darkness.

Mathias HIMSELF
May 30th 2006


161 Comments


good review, Permission to Land is much better

John Paul Harrison
May 30th 2006


1014 Comments


I thoroughly enjoyed this review. Hats off to you, Mr. Hep Kat.

The Sludge
May 30th 2006


2169 Comments


good review, Permission to Land is much better


Reywas
May 31st 2006


148 Comments


good review, Permission to Land is much worse

pattern_recognition
May 31st 2006


950 Comments


How can you pick at the title track for including a sitar solo, while ignoring Hazel Eyes (which I agree is the best song on the album) inclusion of folk instruments and the goofy harmonized runs that open the song? Wouldn't that seem to be less of a hard-rock song than the title track?
Anyway, I agree with most everything else, except I love Is It Just Me. Good review, it gets my vote.

pattern_recognition
May 31st 2006


950 Comments


Fair enough, I had an intuition that might be the case.
Damn Hazel Eyes is sweet.

The Jungler
May 31st 2006


4827 Comments


The title track off this is terrible, the first single off Permision was much better.

Good review.

fisky009
May 31st 2006


813 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

This never lived up to my expectations, Permission to Land was better.

benkickass
May 31st 2006


146 Comments


i think im one of the very few who liked this one better than permision to land...

Med57
Moderator
May 31st 2006


1001 Comments


Good review. I wasn't the biggest fan of Permission To Land (far from it) but it owns this album. The first single was OK, the rest of it is very forgettable stuff. I rather doubt we'll see another album from them, actually.

onefortheman25
May 31st 2006


196 Comments


Thats what I heard. I have never been inclined to listen to it, and I have also heard horrible things about it. The lyrics to the title track suck.

icaught fire444
May 31st 2006


622 Comments


the first time i ever saw james blunt i thought it was this bands singer.

metallicaman8
May 31st 2006


4677 Comments


hahahaha. Yeah i guess he kind of looks like justin with a hair cut.

onefortheman25
June 1st 2006


196 Comments


The song, "your beautiful" has officially been banned throughout the UK (according to the monday edition of the Oregonian), I think that says alot.
Just a little trivia tid-bit.

metallicaman8
June 1st 2006


4677 Comments


It hasn't been banned in Canada. But I hope it will be. His voice is just too damn high-pitched. He could be a muppet. You know, like one of the ones with a really high voice.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 1st 2006


4405 Comments


Gonzo.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

So yeah, the Darkness are garbage. Even I can't stand that singer, and I build my stakes on high pitched vocalists.

onefortheman25
June 2nd 2006


196 Comments


a bad hybrid between Robert Plant, Brian Johnson, and two house cats having sex.



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