Its a great title, but can the second album by codpiece-clad rockers The Darkness measure up to the good-time japery of their debut? Fears that the rancorous departure of bassist Frankie Poullain (replaced by Richie Edwards) might have tarnished their saucy-postcard image are proved groundless seconds into the opening title-track, which, for all its serious subject matter
--the dangers of cocaine abuse--rattles along with a preposterous amount of cowbell and a guitar-shaped swimming pool of cunning puns: "Ive always tried to keep my vices under wraps", coos Hawkins, with the mock-innocence of a mischievous choirboy.
Recorded with "Bohemian Rhapsody" producer Roy Thomas Baker, the rest is a feat of flamboyant musicianship and shameless high-fidelity sound. One highlight comes with "English Country Garden", a falsetto-pitched number reminiscent of Queen in their pomp that sees Hawkins compare his genitalia to a prize-winning marrow. One Way Ticket
, however, is particularly notable for an explicitly romantic streak. "Is It Just Me?" ("Or am I all on my own again?") is a desperate letter to a distant ex-lover, and if the title "Dinner Lady Arms" isnt exactly the most flattering of testaments, the sincerity of its sentiment is unmistakable.--Louis Pattison
Everything youve heard is true. All of it. The exhaustion and the fear, the pressure, paranoia and pan pipes, the breakdowns and break-ups, the sackings, sitar solos and endless studio sessions, and now ultimately--with this, their second album--the rebirth and redemption of The Darkness.
One Way Ticket To Hell
And Back is the conclusion of a year-long journey from Lowestoft to London and from Monmouth to LA to prove to everyone (and themselves) just how utterly irrelevant every other band is right now. To create the album they simply had no choice but to make. To prove The Darkness are still the worlds greatest band.
So, when it came to making a second album, the stakes were high. This meant finding an extraordinary producer that could realise their ambitions. Enter Roy Thomas Baker, affectionately know as RTB, responsible for crafting some of the most impressive and influential records of all time with a CV that includes Queen, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Free and The Who.
RTB isnt an ordinary producer in the same way that The Darkness arent an ordinary band. He and the band were introduced in Los Angeles, instantly bonded over a mutual love of rock and were able to start assembling the album together. "Roy Thomas Baker is a genius, thats all there is to say about it". Justin declares, "Its been a privilege to watch that man work, his ear is perfect, his instinct fabulous".
One Way Ticket To Hell
And Back is a big rock album about faith lost and restored, and about love lost and found. The Darkness really didnt have any choice but to make a record this good. The stakes were too high and the sheer, superhuman feat of pulling it back from the edge (an effort that would most likely kill any lesser band stone-dead) has done nothing but steel their resolve and drive them to make what had to be--and is--the finest rock album of the past twenty years.