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One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back

Studio Album by released in 2005
One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back's tracklist:
One Way Ticket
Knockers
Is It Just Me?
Dinner Lady Arms
Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Hazel Eyes
Bald
Girlfriend
English Country Garden
Blind Man

One Way Ticket to Hell... And Back review

One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back has all the ingredients of a great old-school rock album

The Darkness return with their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back. The dreaded second album always separates the one-album-wonders and the bands with staying power. Having to have your second album be as good as your debut is hard enough, but it's going to be particularly challenging for The Darkness. With their ultra falsetto singer Justin Hawkins and screeching guitars, The Darkness are a complete throwback to the pre-Nirvana 70/80s. Some view The Darkness as a novelty act, and see the success of their debut album as an anomaly. Much to the relief of the band and their fans, One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back totally rocks. It has all the ingredients of a great old-school rocks album: in-your-face head-banging arena rockers with kick-ass solos, a touch of the theatrics, and a ballad or two that isn't to too corny. The Darkness have avoided the pitfalls of many sophomore slumps which include re-making the debut or letting creative aspirations run wild. By recruiting producer Roy Thomas Baker, the man behind the board on classic Queen albums like Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera, The Darkness set themselves up to expand their sound.

The Darkness channels the pompous arena rock of the late-seventies

They say Mariah Carey sings notes only a dog can hear. Well on this showing Justin could be having a few conversations with whales in the near future. The falsetto shrieks are as piercing as ever, and crucially, the songs are just as good too. The foursome channels the pompous arena rock of the late-seventies with flaunting glam bands like Slade and T-Rex, parading mellotrons, flugelhorns, sitars and saxophones into a bawdy mix already conquered by double-barrel Gibsons and layered Queen style vocals. The added sound gives the album that extra edge. Two of the three power ballads pack quite a punch – Bald goes for the big, operatic gesture, while Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is an introspective laced with regret and a string section. You also get hook-heavy rockers like Is It Just Me and Knockers. The resplendent Hazel Eyes is a raucous gypsy jig disguised as a rock-and-roll track. The last two songs, which smack of Queen, are a couple of the best on One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back. English Country Garden is the glammiest track on the record, sporting layered, processed vocals in supreme harmony. Blind Man, a slower ballad with a Bohemian Rhapsody flavor and dreamy, synth-like guitars, wraps the album up into a tight package.

Despite its obvious humor this album deals with some surprisingly stark issues

The album title could almost be autobiographical, as it seemed not long ago that The Darkness were heading for their own private hell, with no return ticket stub. Initial material for the second album was far from promising when given an outing live, the in-band ructions with then bassist Frankie Poullain refused to go away, and then there was Justin’s more than recreational use of cocaine. This gets tackled head on in the title track, with great success and humor. It's an effective way of making light of a heavy issue, a tactic Justin uses elsewhere. For despite its pomp, glitter and obvious humor this album deals with some surprisingly stark issues - drug addiction, baldness and a hint of impotence. One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back is serious rock by a bunch of guys who have no problem not taking themselves all that seriously. Justin Hawkins and his bandmates in The Darkness have given us an exuberant reminder of why – when it was really great – the kind of arena rock that you loved in the 70's was fabulous. The Darkness have a sound that is still instantly recognizable, and Justin retains his knack of coupling wonderfully English lyrics and observations with melodies of huge hit making potential. If their longevity was questionable, they couldn't have answered any more emphatically. There's plenty of room for them in today's pop climate.

(09.12.2005)
Rate review4.60
Total votes - 25


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