Whether you ever liked them or not appears to be, at the point, completely beside the point. Having done that whole reunion thing, Britain's once most marmite rock act are back up to their old tricks again on album number four. When The Darkness got back together after a five year hiatus, they wowed crowds by being a well-oiled rock machine on the live circuit and releasing the fairly meat and potatoes, darkness by numbers 'Hot Cakes' LP. 'Last of Our Kind' affords the Darkness the opportunity to stretch their legs a little more, sonically speaking.
The record opens with a dramatic scene setting monologue, before the huge, rumbling riff kicks proceedings off. This is exactly what you'd expect from The Darkness: a big strident rock belter with huge guitars and some signature falsetto. There probably isn't another band on the planet with multiple top 10 singles to their name who can announce the arrival of a roaring guitar solo by screaming "we are the sons of Ragnar", but by God that's why we love The Darkness.
Next up is 'Open Fire', which has a more refined, 80s rock feel taking in influences like The Cult. This number has chiming guitars and a deeper, more guttural vocal delivery which sounds like their time mentoring Foxy Shazam has rubbed off. One negative about 'Last of Our Kind' would be that largely, the lyrics aren't quite as marvellous as on previous efforts, but on 'Open Fire', the line "Gimme a hug on a sheepskin rug" showcases some classic Darkness humour.
'Last of Our Kind' features some of The Darkness' best songs to date. You get big, chunky, bluesy riffs on songs like 'Roaring Waters' and 'Mudslide'; you get wistful, anthemic melancholy on the likes of the title track and 'Wheels of the Machines'; and special mention has to go to 'Mighty Wings', which sees the band take on 80s synths, proggy time shifts, full on thrash metal chugging and a gallop through various dynamics. This is the Darkness at their absolute best.
Towards the end, 'Last of Our Kind' does begin to lose steam with the sickly sweet pop of 'Sarah O'Sarah', whose daft cheesiness doesn't quite hit the spot, and the album's closing track 'Conquerors' on which bassist Frankie Poullain takes the mic. It seems confused and not quite sure in which direction it wants to go.
Overall, this is a band who do what they want to do, seem to have masses of fun doing it and, for the most, sound fantastic. If you never liked them to start with, this won't win you over, but if you're a certified Darkling, 'Last of Our Kind' will tickle you in all the right places. Count The Darkness out at your peril.
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