U.S. pressing of the British quartet's album includes a link to download to two bonus audio tracks. After releasing two of the most popular indie albums of the 00s, Razorlight return for their third in the shape of Slipway Fires. Typically dramatic and epic in its expressions, this release is slightly more bombastic than before, and incorporates a rawer, edgier rock dynamic. Recorded after a period of isolation and creative rest, lead singer Johnny Borrell took his band to the Inner Hebrides to fuel the renewed creative process, resulting in this anthemic collection. Features the single 'Wire To Wire'. Mercury. 2009.
About the Artist
Sometimes you need to get away from it all, even when your life succeeds beyond your wildest dreams. Just ask Razorlight songwriter, lead singer and guitarist Johnny Borrell, who secreted away on an island off Scotland to write the British band's third CD, the melodic, musically adventurous "Slipway Fires."
"I wanted to process my feelings about a few things because a lot had happened in the last four or five years," Borrell says.
That's a major understatement.
Since Razorlight released its major label debut, "Up All Night," in 2004, the quartet has become one of the biggest bands in the U.K., selling more than three million copies of its first two CDs. The group--comprised of Borrell, guitarist/vocalist Bjorn Agren, bassist Carl Dalemo and drummer Andy Burrows-- has filled British airwaves with such hits as "In the Morning," "Before I Fall to Pieces" and "America." They've headlined the main stage at the Reading Festival and toured with the likes of U2, the Who and the Rolling Stones, standing toe-to-toe with their musical heroes.
At the same time, Borrell simultaneously became a U.K. cover boy and whipping post. Magazines clamored to feature Borrell in their pages since he was always quick with a memorable, sometimes regrettable, but always clever quote until the fame threatened to eclipse the music.
No wonder he needed some time away. Lest anyone think Borrell repaired to a pampered retreat, think again. He lived in a home with no central heating, "so I had to keep lugging coal and chopping wood for about three hours a day to keep the house running," he says. "I knew I was going to read a lot. I didn't really go up to there to write, I just went away. But then, the album started to make itself known."
Plus, he got a nudge when drummer Burrows sent the scorched-earth, slow burner "Stinger" to Borrell. "I was communing with the wind and the grey skies and Andy sent me the song. I thought, that's really a good song, I better start writing some good songs."
Armed with a tasty assortment of tunes, the band entered the studio with producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks). "We like to try out different producers, try a few days with them and see how it goes," Borrell says. "We thought we'd already found our man, but then Mike came in. He had so much energy. It was the first time we'd worked with someone our own age. We'd always worked with a father figure." Crossey's enthusiasm was infectious. For the first time, the band recorded much of the album live-- "the vocals, live everything, all in one go," Borrell recounts.
"Slipway Fires," the band's first on Mercury in the U.S., broadly displays two very different sides of Razorlight. There's the detached, pointed observer of today's social scene, who trenchantly comments on the ruling upper class (Or "the horse and hound girls, the family line that has been ruined by syphilis and heroin," Borrell sneers) in such delectable power pop rock as the Who-like "Burberry Blue Eyes," the driving, irresistible "Tabloid Lover" and the scathing "North London Trash."
But then the band changes gears with the epic, emotional swells of such songs as the Nick Drake-like "Hostage of Love," the poignant, haunting "The House" and first single, the delicate "Wire to Wire." The song, already a top 5 hit in the U.K., is a modern-day love story of a couple trying to find themselves through the charred ruins of their past. "It's two people with the same scar," Borrell says. "I wasn't really thinking it would be a single or anything and we started getting phone calls from people who were saying that songs a smash."
All the songs on "Slipway Fire" "exist for a reason," says Borrell and are detailed communiqués sent out in the hope of igniting some deeper connection. "With the first album, I felt like I was leaving voice mails for people," he says. "These songs are letters, they're slightly more considered."
Fans will immediately hear the arc of the band's metamorphosis. Borrell describes it best: "When you come out with your first album, you're sort of this hormonal, confused, screaming machine, but you're not entirely sure what you want to be saying," he laughs. "The second one, we wanted to broaden our range a little bit. Me and Andy were trying to prove ourselves as songwriters. There's nothing wrong with that. For this one, I just wanted to do something that could own its own space."
And that space is spreading. With their superstar status in the U.K. secure, Razorlight's popularity continues to build in the United States, and much to Borrell and the band's delight, the story is based on the music, not any tabloid mythology.
"This is where rock `n roll comes from, it's hugely important that we break here," Borrell says. "I like the fact that in America, we're the underdog because it cuts out a lot of the bullshit. I'm not jumping up and down, saying `Here! Look at me!' I'm going `Here's the music.' I'm letting the music do the talking."
And now, Borrell and Co. are ready to let the music do the talking on the road. He can't wait can't wait to play the new songs live on the band's North American tour. "My dream is my manager saying `here's the tour,' and I can see all the dates and they run for two years consecutively. I don't care if it's 10,000 or 1,000 or 100, I'd just go play. I'm making music with people who are great at what they do."