Sound: Razorlight will probably surprise most people with their latest release Slipway Fires. The Brit-pop quartet who have made a name for themselves as a modern day bastion of nouveau glam-rock have stretched their wings a bit further here than they did on their debut album Up All Night in 2004 and their self-titled sophomore effort from 2006. Slipway Fires has the band feeling their way around piano dirges, bluesy rock blades, intervals of cabaret-pop bucking, and riptides of country-rock twangs and snappy drum kicks that rattle alongside the sleek and seductive swagger of lead vocalist Johnny Borrell like in North London Trash. Sometimes the band turns up the '70s rock fervor of guitarist Bjorn Agren like in Tabloid Lover, and other times the cozy blues throbbing of bassist Carl Dalemo and drummer Andy Burrows bends around the melody like a warm sheath in Stinger as Borrell's vocal theatrics tweak the tune to give it a wild personality. Borrell goes through a gamut of emotions from grieving and inconsolable aching to enjoying everything that life has doled out to him.
The opening number Wire To Wire is a collage of soft coasting piano keys intensified by blossoming crescendos and gently rustling descents. It's a well-crafted melody that sneaks in short falsettos from Borrell here and there. The crisp staccato beats of You And The Rest resonate like sharp crackling sticks and the staunch rhythmic strokes of Tabloid Lover radiate fiery glam-rock streaks. Borrell's piercing vocals feel abrasive against the mellow vibrating lines of Burberry Blue Eyes while banging out emotive spurts and lifts along Blood For Wild Blood, as a cabaret swagger kneads into Monster Boots. The plush piano ballad The House is soft and reflective while Hostage Of Love is extroverted and thrills the listener with pumping thrusts and sleek declines. The melodies are sharpened for mass consumption and leave the listener feeling good straight through the record. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics make astute observations about life and sharp self-evaluations such as the verses in Wire To Wire with words that reflect, What is love but the strangest of feelings / A sin you swallow for the rest of your life / You've been looking for someone to believe in / To love you until your eyes run dry She says love's not a hostile condition / Love me wherever you are. Sometimes the lyrics mock the rock star lifestyle like in North London Trash when Borrell describes, I'm really no one special but I'm in my prime I've got a hard body girlfriend / She makes the cameras flash I've got a wallet full of cash She helps me spend my cash I'm just North London Trash. The lyrics make poignant observations and equally can make fun of one's choices in life. // 8
Overall Impression: As much as the album is sound commercial rock, Razorlight have their own way of writing songs which is unlike anyone else. It's in the way that Borrell sings, and the way that Burrows' drums paddle, rattle and kick along the melodic passages. Razorlight's appeal seems unintentional like by accident their songs come out sounding top-notch melodic rock. The band has moved beyond their Brit-pop roots and offer fans much more than ever before in Slipway Fires. It's an album that you don't have to be a fan of Razorlight to like. It is music that speaks to everyone. // 8