The Darkness
Pinewood Smile


2.0
poor

Review

by Simon.K CONTRIBUTOR (154 Reviews)
October 7th, 2017 | 30 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It'll take more than a smile to convince fans with this one.

The expression “just good fun” is something which can irritate me in today’s world. It’s the sort of last resort, get out of jail free term used to defend what you love when there isn’t much else to back up your sentiment, while the opposition tear into what are glaring flaws; smart-arsed terminology that alludes the defender into thinking they’ve had the final word, whilst completely killing the discussion in the process. It’s something that has been used frequently in recent years and the phrase has lost a lot of its meaning because of it. Back in the early 2000's, when The Darkness dropped their debut album, I’d have defined Permission to Land as a masterclass in satire and respect to the classic-rock ethos, but it was also the very definition of “just good fun”. A record which presented its listener with a bloody good time of tongue-in-cheek humour and impressive musicianship to support it. And so, The Darkness have continued this trend ever since, never taking themselves seriously – but, the music and lyrics supporting this mentality has varied in quality over the years; a roller-coaster ride of genius moments and truly embarrassing ones. 2015’s Last of Our Kind was a record that got the blueprint right, and was a pretty good return to form – not quite up there with the band’s first effort, but it delivered some really standout moments in song-writing and humour. But even with this success, I can never shake the feeling the band are winging it, blind-firing and hoping they hit the mark.

For a band like The Darkness, the utmost importance should be hooks; vocally, instrumentally, it should all be there. This is an aspect the band have been wrestling with for the last decade, even with the relative success of their last record. Pinewood Smile falls prey to the same devilish flaws Hot Cakes suffered. The album lacks character, cohesion and most importantly, hooks. There’s a couple of good moments here, but the problem lies in these moments being buried under a mountain of banality. Justin’s vocal work is as impressive as ever, but there is nothing particularly memorable to grab onto. The only track that really grabs you by the horns is “Buccaneers of Hispaniola”, for its brash bounce and memorable riffing and melody, everything else on here you’re left picking out the odd moment in tracks. “Southern Trains” has a relentless energy; its speed, powerful production, Black Sabbath inspired guitar hammer-on’s and accompanied solo make it a highlight to an extent, but then it is marred by Justin’s irritating vocals and lyrics; while the closing track “Stampede of Love” has a pretty humorous – Steel Panther-esque – lyrical concept over a pretty acoustic ballad, but its half-baked abruptness deflates any real potential to be had.

Once again, The Darkness bring themselves to the level of plain, vanilla song-writing, matched by a sorry lack of the flamboyancy you’ve come to expect from the band. Despite a few cool moments from the guitar work, everything else is drab. Their new drummer doesn’t do anything particularly engaging, just his job in holding the compositions together, and that best sums up this LP as a whole: these guys are more than able to bring a knock-out to the table, it’s just a question of how badly they want it. Relying on the battered crutch of a jaunty, energetic aesthetic just isn’t enough to deliver great music, there has to be something genuine underneath it all. Complacency is the order of the day here, and unfortunately, the results show as much.

Poor.

FORMAT: DELUXE CD//C̶D̶//D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶//V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶

PACKAGING: 6-PANEL DIGI-PAK.

SPECIAL EDTION: 4 bonus tracks are included in the deluxe package of the LP, but are just as dull as the album’s standard setlist. 2/5



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
2.4
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
Aerisavion
October 7th 2017


1278 Comments


Never was much of a fan of these guys, but once again really enjoyed the review.



DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks buddy

ArtBox
October 7th 2017


236 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Solid review. I thought All the Pretty Girls was a fantastic single but I'm guessing a bit of caution should be needed for this?

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks, mate. I think you'd have to be pretty into the band to jam this more than once.



Very underwhelming.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


17118 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I have a theory.



Shit cover = shit album.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Not always, but this time you're right.



I'd give this a 1 if we were judging the cover lol. So bad.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 7th 2017


25162 Comments


Hey I remember these guys. They were never really that good.

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


17118 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Was listening to this on Spotify and they have a joke AC/DC soundalike jingle advertising Burger King.



It kept popping up between songs here and I kept thinking it was the standout song.



That's how bad this is.

onionbubs
October 7th 2017


7017 Comments


ah man this is bad? their debut is fun

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Invented

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I wish it wasn't. I bought the deluxe cd for this thing. Haha

foxblood
October 7th 2017


7582 Comments


terrible album cover, @doof that sounds horrible

bloc
October 7th 2017


45317 Comments


Ugh that cover is terrifying. One hit wonder band only know for I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

Digging: Flotsam and Jetsam - Doomsday for the Deceiver

Aerisavion
October 7th 2017


1278 Comments


And a terrible Christmas song. Let’s not forget that, much as we try to.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2017


8499 Comments


Permission to Land is one of the best but i don’t think these guys really get what they’re about anymore

Digging: Godflesh - Post Self

emprorzurg
October 8th 2017


565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I used to love The Darkness but this one feels like they've focused on the humour first, music second, leaving it unfunny and nothing interesting musically. Or maybe I just grew up and realised they're a bit shite



All The Pretty Girls and Happiness (sans that cringey af intro) might get a few plays out of me though









Seeing a lot of your reviews around too recently, great job

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cheers empro. It's been a busy couple of weeks for albums. haha

ArtBox
October 8th 2017


236 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I gotta disagree with your review on first listen, Gonzo. Sounds pretty consistent with Permission to Land, though I can see where the "complacency/lack of a genuine something" points come from if that's your angle.

ArtBox
October 8th 2017


236 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Although "I Wish I Was in Heaven" gets way too close to sounding like a bad Fall Out Boy cover band

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2017


13703 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Glad you got something from it, man. I definitely don't see the premission to land similarities though. Haha

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2017


1256 Comments


Damn, about 3/4 of the way through my review on this one - and I see it a lot more favourably than you do!



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