- 19 Nov 21
The Salvation Army
The omniscient overlords of rock that are The Darkness – carve that name with pride, into your own chest, or, preferably, someone else’s – are aware of the almighty kicking the Earth has taken since their last masterpiece, the precognitively titled Easter Is Cancelled. Vaccines and poultices are all well and good, but if we are to truly heal the world, then heroes are called for, heroes in denim and leather, with a side order of catsuit and the world’s greatest living Scotsman in a kimono. What need shall we have of masks when The ‘Ness have melted our collective faces off, with guitars, bass, drums and screaming as their waffen der medizing?
And, lo, they do rock, and with more gusto than e’er before, which is a bit like finding a diamond so hard, it can kick the living fuck out of all its carbon brethren in the shop. The opening hat-trick of ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’, ‘It’s Love, Jim’ and the title track have already achieved the near-impossible by replacing Pelé’s overhead kick in Escape To Victory as the greatest moment in sporting history.
Justin Hawkins is many things – extrovert, holy man, sex god, philosopher, brickie - but a fool is not one of them. Vegetable smoothies aren’t cheap so our man guarantees eternal freebies north of Hadrian’s wall – perhaps a place where health foods are, at best, scarce – with the we-totally-didn’t-make-this-up-on-the-spot ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’. Linguists – Madam! - should note how easily these learned men slip into the Glaswegian vernacular and employ accents during this furious opener that are surely as welcome as the sweet poesy of The Bruce to all Caledonian ears.
You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar and we are most assuredly talking about la miel du pantalon here. Where other’s initial instinct would be to kick any ET’s arse that they might come up against, and ask questions later, Hawkins instead welcomes an interstellar visitor by ‘forming an alliance’ and coming up against them in a manner that Captain Kirk himself - possibly a relative - would have been proud of. Hence, “telepathic alien love” is the order of the day during the breakneck, stop-start riffola of ‘It’s Love, Jim’
By their riffs shall you know them, and verily I say to thee that The ‘Ness shit out riffs like the rest of us shit out shit. The guitar-wrangling that powers the how-strange-the-change-from-minor-to-major title track’s tale of happiness achieved through union with a robotic concubine could double as either battering ram or trebuchet, and would doubtless make any battlement tremble. On top – or behind – of that, the impossibly good-looking/complete bastard Rufus Taylor hits the drums so hard you might think they’d just tried to make off in his sports car with several of his lady friends.
As lethal as that opening salvo is, the riff that opens the immortal ‘The Power And The Glory Of Love’ – delivered by Dan Hawkins’ right-hand-of-God - should probably be enough to change the course of history. This opus deorum petrae takes a justified seat at that venerable top table of rock, where ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ previously removed its trousers, wrapped a tie around its head, and horsed into the house red. Lead us into temptation, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Why is there a helicopter at the start of ‘Jussy’s Girl’? Ours is not to reason why. The rhyme of ‘Jussy’ and ‘Fussy’ is genius, the guitar solo squeals, and the whole thing stinks to high heaven of MTV in the eighties, but in a good way. Don’t ask questions. ‘Sticky Situations’ is as close to a ballad as Motorheart comes but – despite the slightly disappointing fact that it’s not as filthy as its title might suggest – it can’t help itself, it also rocks. “It concerns onanism!” screamed another review. I had missed that, perhaps a case of not seeing the (engorged) wood for the trees. If I’m also slightly confused by ‘Nobody Can See Me Cry’ – it hurtles along at about 1,000 mph although its lyric drifts dangerously close to sensitive – then I know the fault is in my own tiny brain, not the all-powerful, all-knowing Darkness hive mind.
‘Eastbound’ is a song about heading home to see the mates, hopefully getting "comfortable" with some members of your preferred gender – the “rod will never leave my palms” extended fishing analogy is positively Yeatsian - and hitting every boozer in town. That should be all you need to know and should, by decree, be the sole subject matter for any rock n’ roll song, although that is, perhaps an argument for the very Ale Houses the tune celebrates. The false ending which allows a cough is casual greatness akin to Picasso doodling a final eye on the wrong side of some working girl’s head. ‘Speed Of The Nite Time’ is a daft-as-a-brush moody-as-all-get-out throwback to the era of shoulder pads and Rubik’s cubes, but that is not say it is, in anyway, subpar. If they ever bring back Miami Vice, then this will surely soundtrack a late night scene where Don Johnson zips about in some impossibly expensive motor while looking all sensitive. It will also work equally well in my long-mooted reboot of Taffin.
And, with that, the world has been made safe once more for the throwing of shapes, the shaking of heads, the grinning of grins, and the friendly clanging of tankards. It’s no coincidence that Motorheart arrives just as we emerge, blinkingly, into a new era. There is a causal relationship at play here just beyond my grasp, but know this: a world cried out in pain, The Darkness did hear that moaning and wailing, and have delivered a remedy for what ailed. Open all your apertures as wide as they’ll stretch and say, “Aww-some!”