Few bands were quite so skilfully hoisted by their own petard as Razorlight. Sure, the jangly indie for which they led the charge in the early Noughties was on its way out anyway, but it was Johnny Borrell’s supercilious declarations of his own genius that really turned people off. After all, if The Beatles only just managed to get away with it, then Razorlight didn’t stand a chance.
The truth is, Razorlight’s music was never as bad as the band’s reputation became. While, yes, it hardly justified Borrell’s claims that he was “the best songwriter of my generation”, he did have a knack for a perky guitar riff, a catchy melody and an occasionally witty lyric. On Olympus Sleeping – Razorlight’s first album in 10 years – that hasn’t changed.
Unfortunately, though, nothing else has changed either. Olympus Sleeping, while perfectly competent, sounds like the product of a man who’s had his fingers in his ears for the past decade. At its best, it is lively and hook-heavy: “Good Night” is slick and quick, with catchy yells and a speak-singing verse, while “Iceman” – “Yeah I sing for weddings, I do bar mitzvahs too” – is both tongue-in-cheek and poignant.
Mostly, though, for a big comeback, Olympus Sleeping feels dated, and a little forgettable. It’s admirable, in a way, that Borrell has made no attempt to grab hold of the zeitgeist, but the album has little to offer even to those nostalgic for indie days gone by.
“There is a gaping space at the top of British music for ambitious, fun, inspiring rock music,” said a press release announcing Razorlight’s new album. That may be so, but Olympus Sleeping certainly doesn’t fill it.
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