Razorlight’s million selling number one spawning second album propelled the band from a knockabout indie guitar band into the stadium rock stratosphere, now they hope to match its success with their third record “Slipway Fires”.
Johnny Borrell has never been afraid to blow his own trumpet and on this record his force of personality is writ large all over it. Make no mistake this is very much Borrell’s album, with the widescreen arena rock of “America” ditched in favour of folkier,introspective tales, perhaps as a result of Borrell’s self enforced highland hibernation to inspire the lyric writing process. The House is a laid bare confessional tale of the death of his father: ““In bars and in shaded backrooms/Those who can’t cope just get high/But every place this drink takes me to/Belongs to the house where my father died” While the lyrics may be of a more confessional, poetic nature the music certainly is not. On “Slipway Fires” Razorlight have upped the bombast and posturing to at times preposterous levels giving ammunition to the critics who lambast the band for being all overblown bluster and nothing more.
The album sounds superb with excellent production from Mike Crossey, allowing Borrell and his trusty lieutenant’s full scope to indulge in their musical excesses. Gospel choirs and arena friendly chorus’ abound, and despite your feeling that the music is teetering on the edge of meatloaf style ridiculousness the inherent catchiness of the tunes just reels you in. The Glam-pop strut of “Tabloid Lover” and the Kinksian “Burberry Blue Eyes” are particularly hard to escape. Standout track is “Monster Boots” a musical tour de force led by Borrells cracking vocals and the thumping drums of Andy Burrows, put simply this song is perhaps the most thrilling 4 minutes of music you may hear all year.
It does not all work though, the album is hamstrung by some awful and at times laughable lyrics, for example Borrels claims in “North London Trash” to have a “hot bodied girlfriend who makes the cameras flash!” and “Hostage of love’s” complaints that: “For telling the truth I have been crucified!” it is this type of self aggrandising that provokes such hatred in Borrell and seriously lets down an otherwise excellent record.
“Slipway Fires” is by far and away the best of Razorlights records and will no doubt seal their place at the very top of the Uk’s indie-rock table and will in all likelihood swell Johnny Borrells already considerable ego to gargantuan proportions.