Razorlight - Up All Night
Johnny Borrell of Razorlight was in The Libertines for a matter of days only, and whereas Pete Doherty & Co seem intent on embracing the sex and the drugs whilst only occasionally dabbling in the rock and roll, Razorlight go the other way and unleash the finest British debut album of the last year. Forget posh art-rockers Franz Ferdinand or US catwalk richkids The Strokes; this is true, raw music from a lead singer/songwriter primarily concerned about the music.
The initial signs were impressive. Razorlight's recent single Golden Touch reached the top ten in the charts, whilst earlier singles Rip It Up and Stumble & Fall garnered immense praise with their stark, edgy Steve Lillywhite production. Lillywhite has since departed, with engineer/producer John Cornfield carrying the band through to genuine, and instant greatness. The thirteen songs and forty-five minutes available on debut album Up All Night is close to masterful. Rather than take the money shots by throwing in chart grabbing punkpop-riffs, Borrell demonstrates that his skills lie in the ability to refrain from powerful masterstrokes. There are just as many quiet, reflective moments as there are fiery vocals delivered with a burning passion. Yet there isn't a trace of noise on Up All Night, and nor is there a trace of frailty.
Here is an album in which the music is sent first class into your hearts and minds. Some of Borrell's rhythms play directly into the Television and Patti Smith-Horses camps, and Borrell's instinctive knack of being able to sound so fresh, and so alive with just a few strings could render you jealous almost immediately. Annoyingly, the weaker songs on the album have been chosen to open Up All Night. Leave Me Alone is standard indie-postpunk, whilst early single Rock And Roll Lies suggests that Borrell has improved notably since its release a year ago. Vice manages to pull off Borrell spelling out the word 'love' on numerous occasions without sounding corny, but it's the fourth song, the title track, in which the band are in full command and from then on they never let go. Up All Night is a brilliant, brooding number that perfectly balances crashing guitar vitriol with soulful vocals.
Which Way Is Out is another fine number, expertly setting up the most Strokes-like number Rip It Up, which could happily sit on Is This It and claimed to be by Casablancas himself if the vocals weren't so clean. Two great singles, Golden Touch and Stumble And Fall hint at the band's versatility. The former being a jingly, mostly acoustic performance whilst the latter carries a fantastic solo and an exhilerating build-up. Get It And Go is arguably trademark Razorlight - powerful, sparse chords with an edgy, explosive climax. Easily the greatest song on the album, you only hope it's considered as the next single.
Before you know it, the epic forty-five minutes of Up All Night have finished, and you are hitting the play button once again on your stereo to relive the whole experience. Make no mistake, Johnny Burrell has a right to be arrogant, has a right to steal the throne, and is already shaping up to be the new darling of indie rock and roll. Former Razorlight drummer Christian Smith-Pancorvo will look back in years to come and wonder why he gave up on a band destined for greatness.