The Darkness, 'Hot Cakes'

The Darkness, 'Hot Cakes' (August 14, 2012)

***1/2 (out of four)

As opposed to their fun-but-deliberate openers Foxy Shazam at a highly entertaining show at Metro earlier this year, British rockers the Darkness are the real deal in 21st century glam rock. Singer Justin Hawkins wails like nobody’s business, and when those guitars, indebted to ‘70s excess and ‘80s hair metal, wrap themselves around a killer hook, the band’s hard to beat for pure, shameless entertainment.

In other words, I’m thrilled that Hawkins and his bandmate/brother Dan resolved their differences—not to mention Justin’s wicked problems with drugs and alcohol—so the band could deliver its third full-length, “Hot Cakes,” which doesn’t miss a step from 2003 breakthrough “Permission to Land” and underrated 2005 follow-up “One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back.” This band is pure swagger, sweat and sex, blasting giant rock tunes that you’re ready to hear again immediately after the album finishes. As usual, certain riffs reign supreme, from the rejuvenating “She Just a Girl Eddie” to the propulsive “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” which really should have opened the record. If you’re picking favorites, “Forbidden Love” and the too-straightforward “Everybody Have a Good Time” are likely to be skipped over.

Is the Darkness the freshest, smartest band around? Of course not. Do I give a damn? Hell no. So pick up that air guitar: The Darkness is back and still bitchin’, writing more party rock anthems that make your night better, not worse.

mpais@tribune.com, @mattpais