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Up All Night by Razorlight

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Reviewed on 2nd July 2004.


Up All Night

By Razorlight

Razorlight play ballsy punk-fuelled garage rock with a distinctly British pop sensibility. I like it; but I don't love it. I've found it hard to appreciate their relatively derivative but inexplicably brisk song format. Stand out tracks remain the already released singles 'Rip It Up', 'Stumble and Fall' and 'Golden Touch' which are fabulously infectious and simply delightful to return to on every single play. However, as an album, there is something lacking in the overall delivery. Ideas throughout the album seem a bit thin on the ground and maybe repetitive. Not repetitive in an ingeniously basic Strokes manner; just devoid of variation. It isn't distinctive like Franz, or bluesy like Kings of Leon; it isn't even tongue in cheek like Mike Skinner. The majority of the tracks serve as superfluous cushioning daubed either side of the three singles placed in the middle. For a debut album, 13 tracks is slightly ambitious. Even so, most of the songs rarely break 3.30 minutes, which leaves short, sharp and sweet melodies between my ears that scream for a second listen.

This, the debut long player from Razorlight, is bound by a foot-tapping, head-nodding demeanour, which although enjoyable, isn't all that exciting. The unambiguous songs; thematic choices including loves lost and found, and the peaks and pitfalls of life as a Rock 'n 'Roll singer, are straightforward in lyrical content as well as musical approach. If you're looking for progressive, jazz-tinged salsa rock with orchestral arrangements and Ladysmith Black Mambasa choral accompaniments this is not where you will find it (try Paul Simon "Gracelands" era jamming with The Mars Volta). Some of the chord progressions and lyrical choices do sometimes seem contrived, if effective. The guitars are dry sounding, which gives a direct but monotonous tone. And I would have preferred to see Razorlight delve into other instrumentation more often and maybe apply some effects here and there to add a bit of character. There are some brief encounters of Piano thrown in, but they aren't really utilized in the most effective of ways. The backing vocals are few and far between, but one particular appearance in 'Golden Touch' gloriously compensates for the rest of the album.

Lead singer, Jonny Borrell, has charged about happily, claiming he is the best thing since sliced bread. I'm sorry Mr Borrell, but you don't have the evidence to back up that arrogantly posed Rock 'n' Roll prancing. The album reads like an appraisal of the lyrical wit and insight of The Kinks or The Jam combined with the less ska-mad moments of The Clash's repertoire. That's not to say that "Up All Night" won't impress you, because if you like simple, but effective good time Rock 'n' Roll songs, Razorlight 'have it all of you want it'. However, they are still nowhere near the greatness of those aforementioned acts, yet at least. A little maturation and some deeper thought behind the substance offered may culminate in the development of a fantastic band, stooping around the scene for a long while. People have expected Razorlight to become a serious challenge to the NME'S Libertines infatuation, which would be a good thing of course, but I do think that if style, fashion and trends are anything to go by, Razorlight would do better attempting to elevate their music beyond all contemporary comparisons, instead of relying on hype, so as to ensure their own survival after the inevitable collapse of the Brit-rock garage bubble.



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