Updates & miscellaneous musings!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bismillah, no.

A couple days ago I bought "One Way Ticket to Hell...and back", which is the new The Darkness album.

I was kind of ambivalent about spending most of my remaining itunes gift card on it, but one of the reviewers called it "The best Queen album they never released" or some such, so I thought what the hell.

It's not bad exactly, but...
My problem with The Darkness, I think, is that while they sound reasonably good (often), they are not smart or even particularly creative people, and the subject matter of their songs reflect that.

Here's a sample of the very best lyrics (honestly) from "Ticket", in the song "Blind Man"--
Tell me why the blind man cries
Oh, he sheds a tear because he just can't hear
the children singing
How he used to fantasize
Of standing next to some children who are doing singing

The song sounds a lot like Queen's "Barelona", but it's just too blantantly dumb and devoid of substance.

Queen are eclectic, both musically and in subject matter.* It always sounds like something's happening, even when it's not a coherent narrative. That's why their catalogue lent itself so naturally to a musical.

Queen's lyrics aren't terribly deep and meaningful, but they are quirky and evocative. You may not be able to say exactly just what is happening in Bohemian Rhapsody, but something certainly is, and it's something interesting.
And some of their more obscure songs (like my favorite '39 tell somewhat intricate little stories.

And I think that's important. I think it's really cool when people can use songs as an effective storytelling medium and still have them sound good.
It's something that, say, Iron Maiden and The Decembrists have in common, and The Darkness and Queen do not. And it's an important something.

I wouldn't say the album is bad exactly...there's a couple songs I rather like (including, believe it or not "Blind Man"), but there's a reason why Queen's special, and The Darkness simply don't get it.

*The rest of this is about the subject matter, but musically it should be noted that while Queen seemingly effortlessly bleneded countless musical genres in various interesting ways (sometimes to great effect, sometimes not), The Darkness range between successfully sounding just like a particular Queen song (or, in one particularly weird instance, a particular The Cure song) and sounding like squeaky shit. I'd say there's maybe three or four songs between the two albums that sound both good and not like a specific copy of someone else.


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