With a debut this good, Razorlight are a band that deserve to do very, very well.
Richard Banks 2004-06-28
The equation facing Razorlight as they release this, their debut long-player, is the same which tends to cripple many bands at the first hurdle. Take a bunch of decent singles, add an unhealthy dollop of hype, multiply by some obligatory rock 'n' roll mischief, subtract and replace a drummer and what are you left with? The unwelcome weight of anticipation on inexperienced shoulders. Fortunately, Razorlight have taken their time recording this album, and it shows. Up All Night is a record that shines from start to finish.
Maybe it's just me, but there's something in singer Johnny Borrell's voice that continually reminds me of Jarvis Cocker. As he belts out lyrics with the undiluted charisma and cocksure swagger of a seasoned pro, there's always a hint of the Cocker-esque introvert that lies beneath the surface (see "Fall, Fall, Fall"). Yet while Borrell is every bit as enigmatic as the Pulp frontman, he's four times as exciting.
Perhaps it's the company he keeps. Borrell is famously good mates with the Libertines, and their influence certainly shows on the album's more raucous tracks ("Get It And Go", and album-opener "Leave Me Alone"). But where certain tracks on the Libertines' debut, Up The Bracket, are hindered by their rampant rock n roll incoherence, Up All Night benefits from a commendable professionalism and clarity of sound throughout. Above all else, Razorlight certainly know how to craft a killer three-chord single. On "Rock 'N' Roll Lies", "Rip It Up" and "Stumble And Fall", they stick to the punk-rock adage of keeping it simple as if their lives depended on it.
And yet Razorlight still sound remarkably original. Although prior releases saw comparisons with the likes of Television and The Strokes, the bulk of Up All Night certainly sees the band treading new ground. Guitarist Björn Agrens snappy, post-punk riffs and chiming new-wave chords work wonderfully over Carl Dalemo's catchy, lucid basslines, whilst Christian Smith-Pancorvo's audacious drum fills, rolls and funky stop-start beats (see "Rip It Up") will no doubt fill indie disco dancefloors for some time.
From an industry point of view, Up All Night's only shortcoming is that four of its songs have already appeared as singles (the most recent being "Golden Touch"), meaning the album may suffer from an undeservedly short shelf-life. Having said that, "Vice" is a modern anthem in the making that simply must be unleashed into the charts. With a debut this good, Razorlight are a band that deserve to do very, very well.