Review Summary: Passable, but so sterile and G rated that even your grandmother may like it. To quote the band themselves: “In the morning, you know you won’t remember a thing”.
Following on from Razorlight’s likeable but flawed debut ‘Up All Night’, it was always going to be interesting to see how the apparently ego-driven Johnny Borrell and his bunch of merry Swedes were going to distinguish themselves from the Brit-Pop Post-Punk pack. Surprisingly, the method they have chosen is to attempt to appeal to practically every age bracket imaginable. This album is so G rated that even your grandmother may like it!
The initial effect is a positive one as opener and 1st single ‘In The Morning’ is a hooky cut full of jangly guitars and a positive vibe. Catchier than anything on their debut, it is what the band seem to have targeted their sound at for this album and even the repetitive ending used to pad the song out works well. Unfortunately, it is pretty much all downhill from here as this is the album’s standout track.
On further reflection, maybe Razorlight did not attempt to appeal to everyone. Maybe they were targeting mainstream America, as the 2 other highlights are suspiciously titled ‘America’ and ‘Los Angeles Waltz’. Even Borrell’s thick accent is clearly toned down on this self-titled follow-up. Second single ‘America’ is one which many will dismiss as mainstream radio fodder, but in truth it is a memorable and appealing tune which deserves recognition. Meanwhile, the closing ‘Los Angeles Waltz’ is most impressive musically, while also containing effective vocals. For once, Razorlight are able to perform a well over 4 minute track without having to resort to some kind of gimmicky technique to pad the song out.
Unfortunately, that is arguably it for this album’s highlights and the remaining 7 tracks pretty much all have the same feel to them, without being anything too awful. They are dated mid-tempo pop-rock songs that sound reminiscent to something you would have heard from the late 60’s or early 70’s. While there are some nice harmonies included, the pattern is monotonous and even any attempt to add variation (the repetitive one-note piano loop in ‘Who Needs Love’ or some vocal swagger on the bouncy 5th single ‘Hold On’) either comes off as shallow or simply just fails.
In fact, you get the feeling that the effectiveness of these tracks depends on their placement in the ordering as ‘Pop Song 2006’ and ‘Kirbys House’ fall flattest simply because they come after the rest of the mediocrity. To that end, I suppose the penultimate ‘Back To The Start’ is worthy of some positive mention due to its reggae-infused feel that just may have made this album passable as a whole.
The best way to sum this LP up in one word is “sterile”. That adjective is usually used to describe an album that is over-produced and that isn’t necessarily the case here. It is just that this album is devoid of emotion, excitement and energy. Even when Borrell utters the F-Bomb in the final track, it sounds as if it is a fake attempt at some kind of emotion and comes off as if he is just saying any other word in the dictionary.
While the opening ‘In The Morning’ may well be the best track here, two separate lines of it’s lyrics prove rather ironic in summing up this album perfectly. Firstly, the song begins with “I don't know what I'm doing wrong, maybe I've been here too long. The songs on the radio sound the same…” before making it’s way to the chorus of “In the morning, you know you won't remember a thing”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Recommended Tracks: In The Morning, America & Los Angeles Waltz.