Buzzed Bands Podcast, Ep. 2 w/ Cold Blood Club

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Razorlight by Razorlight

Tom says:

Behold! We present to all of you, loyal audience, the classic sophomore album catastrophe! Uh-huh. Today, this calamity of calamities strikes our erstwhile friends Razorlight. We should first confess that we had warm feelings originally for Razorlight. The groups first full-length, “Up All Night,” was pretty damn alright. For those of you who are not familiar with it, “Up All Night” was essentially a poor-man’s “Up the Bracket.” Razorlight came across like the Libertines with less soul, zazz, and poetry, but with bigger, pop-ier hooks and trust funds. In fact, better yet, just imagine what the Strokes might sound like if covering Libertines tunes, with all the musical precision-cum-mechanical-joylessness that would entail. That’s what early Razorlight was like. Got that?

Anyway, the Razorlight boys, led by their maestro-troubadour Johnny “I Once Got Head-Butted—yes, head-butted—and Knocked on My Ass Backstage in Front of a Group of My Peers at a Festival by an Angry Pete Doherty” Borell, were onto a relatively good thing with their early material. This good thing continued onto the release of their opus (with a little ‘o’), “Somewhere Else,” a UK number one single that was released last year to near-universal acclaim and general widespread ballyhoo. All together, “Somewhere Else,” like the groups material before it, was a fairly clever, passably sincere, rabblerousing pub singalong about urban blight, youthful arrogance, and misguided romance…i.e. all the bits of pathos that every UK garage band writes about these days (Mike Skinner being a man alone in writing affectionate odes to his PlayStation 2). And of course, as is the case with their brethren, Razorlight’s rhythm section played loud and frenetically and the guitar player could spit out a few Edge-like lines here and there and Borell sang throughout to a usually pleasant, reasonably dispassionate clip. Things sure were swell then. Nonetheless, these records failed to register much stateside and so the group evidently returned to the garage to retool their sound. What they cooked up…geez…I can only describe as New Coke-like in its awfulness.

Why and in what ways do I think “Razorlight” sucks? Why is this a beautiful example of a second-record aristic implosion? Well, for starters, the rhythm section has traded in bravado for what sounds like sleepwalking. Really, where drum kicks and bass licks used to swing they now stomp and lag and bore the shit out of me. Secondly, the production has gone from “Up All Night’s” muddy-but-powerful wallop to steam whistle-clean. The guitars and keyboards literally sound like they were recorded in an 8’ by 10’ prison cell. Thirdly, inquiring listeners will notice Borell’s lyrics have decidedly turned away from yearning Paul Weller-isms to quasi-weary, dull, pompous Chris Martin-isms about subjects no less irksome than love, heaven, and Los Angeles. I know, it’s shameful. The band’s melodies are also slighter now than before, relying less on staccato phrasing and more on crooning, which in the hands of a more gifted singer (a la Julian Casablancas or Carl Barat) would work, but Borell is not a gifted singer, so, err, it doesn’t.

Ultimately, “Razorlight” is nothing if not depressingly lame; really, truly, awfully lame. Even the “Meet the Weezer” style cover-shot and the bored and uninspired liner notes manage to convey an unremittingly sad lameness that transcends words. Razorlight used to be too cool for school, now they sound like the score from an after-school special:

3 out of 10

Matt says:
Agreed... it sucks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to get into their second album but find myself going back to the tunes from their 1st effort.

It looks to me like they found their safety net in the buzz in the UK. They even did a cover for HEYa, which completely drained the soul out of that tune, and if you saw them covering The Cure at the MTV icon for was nice at moments but fell short overall.

and that LA waltz tune...ugh.

Having said that, it sounds like either them or their label chose to be a morning commute radio band.

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