Razorlight (Johnny Borrell, Carl Dalemo, Bjorn Agren and Andy Burrows) blend straightforward rock with UK singer-songwriter folk. Like a band that wouldn’t seem out of place playing at the local pub, on Slipway Fires they wear their influences (Travis, The Verve, Starsailor and Coldplay) on their sleeves.
North London Trash
Razorlight break no new ground with their second full length album Slipway Fires. Lyrics from their track “North London Trash” best sum up the album: “I was raised by the radio in a broken home, I’ve got a broken smile and an arrogant line, I’m really no-one special but I’m in my prime”.
The album opens with recent UK top five track “Wire to Wire”, a melancholy piano-driven ode to bitter-sweet love reminiscent of Starsailor at their creative peak. “How do you love with a faith full of rust? How do you turn what was savage tame,” lead singer and principle songwriter Borell croons in a youthful voice with a hint of old soul wisdom.
Following the delicate into, Razorlight discover their rockier roots on moody “Hostage of Love” and urgent garage jam “You and the Rest”. They then infuse jagged guitar clutter on “North London Trash” and the straightforward, yet dispensable “Tabloid Lover”.
Wire to Wire
Despite their rock tendencies, Razorlight sound their best when they keep it simple. Lead single “Wire to Wire” smoulders with a hint of desperate pain while the gorgeous “60 Thompson”, a subtle acoustic guitar ballad builds to a more energetic climax as the song’s story unfolds. With whispered background vocals, that song, along with the smoky “Stinger”, stand out as album highlights.
On the latter half of the album, Razorlight shift gears again. On the louder “Blood for Wild Blood” Borell sounds strikingly like The Killers’ Brandon Flowers on their track “Indie Rock and Roll”.
“Monster Boots” recounts a tale of dead love framed in a rockabilly tapestry. Album closer “The House” brings things full circle, ending the collection with a melancholic piano and voice driven track about “the house where my father died”.
While Slipway Fires is a solid album with several stand out tracks, Razorlight fail to break any new ground and distinguish themselves from the groups they so obviously admire. Fans of indie rock and roll should find plenty to enjoy with this album, however, this is not the CD that will propel the band into the international spotlight.
Razorlight are something special, but not yet in their prime. Slipway Fires was released in the US in March 2009 and is available on iTunes and Amazon.com.