CD Review of Slipway Fires by Razorlight
Razorlight: Slipway Fires
Recommended if you like
The Finn Brothers, Bob Geldof,
The Zutons
Label
Mercury
Razorlight: Slipway Fires

Reviewed by David Medsker

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W
hen we spoke with Andy Burrows, drummer for UK darlings Razorlight, he could barely contain his excitement about the band being on a new label in the States, convinced that their new home would surely make the inroads that their former home either couldn’t or seemed unwilling to attempt. As a matter of courtesy, we didn’t point out that his old home, UniversalMotown, and their new one, Mercury, are both under the same corporate umbrella. In fact, upon further inspection, we noticed that the band’s last album, 2006’s Razorlight, actually has the credit "Mercury Records Limited under exclusive license to Universal Records." Meet your new home, Razorlight. Same as your old home.

Razorlight

In truth, Burrows was placing his blame for the band’s lack of success on this side of the pond on the wrong people. The "blame," as it were, didn’t fall on the shoulders of the label – it fell on the public. They’ve gotten very particular about which English bands they will allow to achieve mainstream success in these here United States; even the ones that are allowed to slip an album into our Top Ten tend not to stay there long (one week, on average), and almost none of them score a Top Ten single. Case in point: Coldplay and Snow Patrol have only three Top Ten singles between them. Seems like they should have more, right? Wrong. Three.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that Razorlight’s fortunes are not likely to change with the release of Slipway Fires, the band’s third album, but they shouldn’t be discouraged by that. In fact, this is arguably their best album yet, a decidedly more, ahem, mature effort. Musicians hate that word, and rightly so, since it implies their previous work was immature. That isn’t the case with Razorlight, but there is no question that leadoff song – and first single – "Wire to Wire" is playing a completely different game than Razorlight’s lead single, "In the Morning." Solemn piano, with bushels of vocals singing "Looooooove me," and not a major chord to be found for miles, it’s a gutsy choice for lead single, but a fitting one. The piano gets a rather extended workout on Slipway Fires, as it’s also the driving force behind the cheeky, shuffling "North London Trash," in which singer Johnny Borrell has fun with his image, and the driving "Burberry Blue Eyes," a sordid tale of an upper-class girl acting out for attention that ends with an unexpected detour into Abbey Road-era Beatles.

If only the entire album packed the same wallop as its high marks. "60 Thompson" and "Blood for Wild Blood" are fine but barely leave a footprint before they’re gone, and "Tabloid Lover" is plagued by Borrell’s moralizing about the bored, drugged, self-absorbed middle-class kids of today. (The bored, self-absorbed middle-class kids that you’re hoping will buy your record, you mean?) Still, when Slipway Fires works, it’s on par with anything that Snow Patrol has sent to radio, and often better. Who knows, maybe they have a chance to break out over here after all.

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