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Razorlight - Razorlight

Razorlight LP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

I HAVE to confess that Razorlight’s sophomore album wasn’t something that I was keenly anticipating to like. For sure, it’s among the year’s most high profile releases given the success of their debut album, Up All Night.

But some of the comments coming from Johnny Borrell smacked of the arrogance that comes with rapid success, while comeback single In The Morning was deeply disappointing – a pale imitation of past Razorlight classics such as Stumble & Fall and Golden Touch.

Given the widespread reports of a punishing and traumatic touring schedule during which the band reportedly came close to burn out, as well as the delays in completing the second album, it seemed as though Razorlight were putting the difficult into “the difficult second album syndrome”.

But it has to be said that Razorlight, for the most part, marks a glorious triumph over adversity that maybe, just maybe, justifies some of the arrogance surrounding the band’s lead singer.

Some critics have even hailed Razorlight as the best guitar album since Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, while comparisons with that masterpiece have been rife. It’s probably not quite in that category (particularly as that was debut LP) but Razorlight is certainly a striking piece of work that contains some classic anthems.

It’s alarming, therefore, to find In The Morning opening proceedings – although things certainly do improve immeasurably after that.

Second track Who Needs Love? is a bitterswet lament on life and love that features a bouncing piano loop and whimsical lyrics such as “ooh, ooh darling, who needs the night, the sacred hours, the fading light, who needs the morning and the joy it brings? Not I’. It’s an effortlessly catchy record that belies the bitterness behind it, courtesy of its retro vocal melodies and strong guitar solo midway through.

It’s from that moment that Razorlight really begins to impress. Hold On is a more traditional foot-stomper that finds Borrell’s vocals at their most distinct, although the crashing tambourines and drums lend it an inspiring vibe that is virtually impossible not to become swept along in.

Stand-out track America follows along immediately afterwards to deliver the album highlight. A pensive slow-burner, the reflective lyrics are beautifully and achingly relayed by Borrell against the backdrop of some striking and no-less memorable guitar riffs. It won’t require many listens for you to be singing along to the central chorus of “all my life, watching America, all my life, standing in America, uh uh oh, trouble in America, uh uh oooh”. This could possibly be one of Razorlight’s finest moments and it’s barely been off my stereo since.

If the remainder of the album can’t quite high the majestic heights of this standout track, there’s still plenty to savour. Fall To Pieces kicks off with another breezy blast of guitar that immedately returns proceedings to an upbeat style. It’s the track that In The Morning should be and even finds Borrell having fun, dropping a few “whoahs” to compliment the livewire riffs.

Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got is another gem, rich in salient points about the nature of Borrell’s career so far (“I know who I am and I know who I’m not and I know where I’ve been and I know what I’ve lost”). The central riff is simple but tellingly effective in the same way that Coldplay’s Jonny Buckland’s are – even building in the same emotive fashion as the track really kicks in.

The only really falls into slightly lazy territory on tracks like Back To The Start and Pop Song 2006 which are over familiar and not reflective of this album’s ambitious sweep.

But such time-outs are allowed, particularly as the album draws to a satisfyingly grandiose finale with the epic Los Angeles Waltz, a slow-builder that reaches some terrific highs and boasts some more classic riffs.

Cast aside any reservations about some of Razorlight’s more outspoken antics, when they allow their music to do the talking it really does communicate to the masses in commanding fashion. Razorlight is an album that surpasses the achievements of its illustrious predecessor and cements the band’s reputation as a major force.

Track listing:

  1. In The Morning
  2. Who Needs Love?
  3. Hold On
  4. America
  5. Fall To Pieces
  6. Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got
  7. Pop Song 2006
  8. Kirby’s House
  9. Back To The Start
  10. Los Angeles Waltz