Razorlight

Up All Night

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AllMusic Review by

There must be a healthy middle when it comes to capturing the essence of Brit-pop. Something in between the impenetrable swagger of Liam and Noel Gallagher and the vacuous and hollow bravado of Jet that can both pay homage to big riffs and bad attitude, yet still maintain a unique personality, which is what made the rock gods of yesteryear so endearing. Razorlight mastermind, lead singer/guitarist Johnny Borrell wants so desperately to be the next Joe Strummer or Lou Reed, and for what Razorlight's first album lacks in identity, it gathers momentum on effort and sheer will. It's the same, albeit slightly worse, garage rock revival record that's been all too common in the early 2000s, but quick, aggressive tracks such as "Vice," "Rip It Up," "Golden Touch" and "Stumble and Fall" are undeniably catchy and Borrell himself is largely responsible for playing them as if he really were the next Freddie Mercury. He wails and passionately groans over some horribly vapid vocals, "hey girl/get on the dancefloor/rip it up, yeah/that's what it's there for" (on "Rip It Up") but even a bad cover version of your favorite Strokes-type song can still appeal to the less cynical part of your brain. Even John Cornfield and Borrell's production seems like a shoddy attempt to re-create the frontman's favorite records note for note. His desire to add a layer of grime by muddying up the louder moments (such as on "Don't Go Back to Dalston," which starts off quietly before careening into a bloated call and response conclusion) doesn't remove the feeling that the entire recording process was extremely sterile. At this stage, Borrell lacks the confidence to move beyond his idols, and his energetic music remains a game of spot the influence.

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