Motorheart: A Return to Form for Britain’s Long Lost ‘Next Big Thing’?

One of the biggest British bands to come out of the early 2000s, The Darkness exploded onto the scene in 2003 with their debut, going 7x platinum across four different countries. It has been an unfortunate decline since then, especially since the band returned in 2011. However, they have still been putting out some good tracks, and from what I have heard from this album so far it sounds promising. I was a HUGE Darkness fan as a kid, so I’m excited to get into this and see just how good the band still is!

Opening track ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’ starts things off perfectly, not only showcasing the band’s wicked humour with the title, lyrics, and the inclusion of bagpipes, but also because a song that builds up from bass and drums and adds in more and more layers is always great. Justin’s phenomenal vocal range is on display early too, it starting pretty low before he launches into his insane falsetto for the chorus. The main guitar riff doesn’t kick in until a minute in, but it’s amazing when it does, adding some heaviness and plenty of bounce to it all. It opens up for the verse again before the awesome riff launches us into a fantastic guitar solo. I always forget just how amazing guitarists Justin and Dan are, truly underrated in today’s climate. A great song and a great way to start an album. Playlisted!

‘It’s Love, Jim’ opens heavier than the previous song, straight in with a good, quick guitar riff before the rest of the band join in over the top. It reminds me so much of Permission to Land, easily one of the best debut albums out there, so it’s definitely a good thing. The transitions between parts are a little hard to distinguish sometimes, but damn if the chorus isn’t massively catchy, and the main riff goes HARD. There isn’t too much more to say about this song, it’s a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall hard rock track, and I love it. Check this out if you are at all into rock music, and you can find it on our playlist here

The album’s title track is the only one I was fairly familiar with coming into this. It opens on a Maiden/Egyptian style guitar solo before we get a few seconds of almost Dream Theater sounding crazy timings. It’s a mess in the best way possible. However, I do have to admit, I’m not that hot on the vocals for this song. There is nothing at all wrong with his delivery, the falsetto will never fail to be impressive, it’s mainly just because it doesn’t feel that catchy to me. And it feels like there are two different choruses in the thing, which did confuse me some. The guitar solo was awesome though, I do have to admit! Yeah, not a bad song, but an odd choice for the main single and not as good as the previous two.

‘The Power and the Glory of Love’ opens on a VERY AC/DC style riff, feeling like I’m listening to a modern-day ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’. It’s another song that builds up into a huge, open, and very catchy chorus, one filled with more high vocals. Outside of that and another great (albeit brief) guitar solo, there isn’t much to talk about with this one too. The same could be said for another of the album’s singles, ‘Jussy’s Girl’. The lyrics for it were fun and entertaining, but the track itself is just another good hard rock song with nothing extravagant or too different happening. If you’ve heard the first couple of Darkness albums, you’ll know what both of these tracks sound like. That isn’t at all an issue, and I love them both, I’m just struggling to talk about them in too much depth.

‘Sticky Situations’, meanwhile, reminded me quite a lot of ‘Christmas Time’ in terms of structure and feel. Outside of the lyrics, it could very well have fit as a sequel track. I LOVE ‘Christmas Time’, so of course I love this too. The subtle piano throughout was a nice touch, and the almost Queen-esque backing vocals and harmonies were fantastic. It reminded me of ‘Killer Queen’ at times. It’s a real testament to the band’s skill as songwriters, as well as vocalists. The talent is off the charts. The solo was maybe the best on the album, too!

‘Nobody Can See Me Cry’ opens on an almost punk/thrash riff and the tempo doesn’t really let up throughout the track. The bridge riff under the solo was also awesome, blues, and full of attitude. And of course, we get another phenomenal solo, a given at this point. ‘Eastbound’ is a touch slower and lighter than ‘Nobody…’, sounding more like a Status Quo song. However, it gives out the same sort of energy as the other song and also has an awesome guitar solo. Neither have particularly ear-catching choruses though, I do have to admit.

‘Speed of the Nite Time’ almost feels like a homage to 80s pop-rock, bands like The Cure and Joy Division. It’s a lot more drum-based, with a lot of intermittent clean guitar work and a surprising amount of synth for a Darkness track. It’s a great, interesting change of pace and exactly what this album needed, I’d say. After a few great tracks that kind of blended into one for me, this broke up the latter half of the album perfectly, and it helps that it’s such a good song too!

The blues-driven ‘You Don’t Have to be Crazy… But it Helps’ continues the trend of different feeling tracks on this album, something that is welcomed this late in the game. The backing vocals under the main ones add a great touch, and honestly, it just sounds like the band had a lot of fun writing and recording this one. It’s a simple yet fun track revolving around a beat and riff, but they play around with it well to keep it interesting for three-and-a-half minutes. Oh, and the chorus is also awesome, just to add.

‘It’s a Love Thang’ is the first of the ‘slower’ track off the album, and it’s great. The lyrics are a particular highlight here, getting an audible laugh out of me more than once, but the rest of the song is great too. Then the closing track of the album, ‘So Long’, is the token acoustic ballad. Putting aside my negative feelings towards the slowest track on the album closing the thing out instead of ending with a bang, this is a very good song. The emotion could be felt through the speakers and Justin’s voice sounded amazing over the top of the simple guitar chords. A great track, even if it is in the wrong place.

Overall: This was great! I have been a fan of The Darkness since they first started, but I do have to admit I haven’t been a huge fan of a lot of their stuff since their comeback, aside from Last of Our Kind. This, however, felt like it could have easily been a fantastic follow-up to their first two albums, and almost as a return to form. Hopefully, this pushes them back into the spotlight where they so sorely deserve to be, and back towards where they were at the start of their careers. I’ll be listening to this album a lot for the rest of the year and I recommend you do too!

The Score: 8/10

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