Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Razorlight; hmm

One of the downsides of allowing yourself to be interviewed by someone who isn't a music journalist, and is thus not cravenly beholden to the 'rock star' myth, is that you open yourself to be stitched up and exposed as a fool, as Johnny Borrell no doubt discovered when he opened up Laura Barton's hilarious interview with him in the Guardian this morning. Not that it isn't his own fault.

For those who have somehow missed Mr. Borrell, lead singer of insipid indie hopefuls Razerlight, he has recently encountered some success with his band's debut album, and has let it go to his head somewhat, proclaiming himself a kind of Charles Dickens-Bob Dylan for the twenty-first century. Well, for those of us who still pick up a copy of the NME in the library every now and again and are inured to the silly, hyperbolic things that 'rock stars' say, this isn't too shocking - grand declarations of genius are all too common in the world of conservative indie rock, and the quotes are normally accompanied by the kind of journalism that is just impossible to take seriously - witness the recent fawning over Pete Doherty and this beloved (coughs violently) 'Albion'. For example, has anyone ever heard a Libertines record which is anywhere near as enjoyable as reading one of their ridiculous, self-aggrandising interviews?

Yet having somehow captured the attention of a large group of people (I wonder why no-one else noticed that their was a Richey Manic shaped hole in modern pop), Doherty does at least have some claim to influence. Borrell is stumbling in his wake. And he may be a nice looking chap, but that doesn't make the following statements any cleverer.

"Y'know, I could've been a poet," he swaggers, "but I've never seen anyone perform poetry and been anything other than bored out of my head. Cos it's a dead art form, you know? The whole point of Razorlight is to get something that means something and has some artistic merit coming out of your speakers in three minutes. That's why movies work. It's a shame theatre can't do that, but it can't."

Before I continue, I'll just take a moment to reproduce a little verse; I'll leave it up to you to work out whether this is from the pen of Johnny Borrell or Philip Larkin. See if you can work it out...

"Six in the morning and you rise and you fall, you got to
You got to grab what you can
Here comes your man, baby, he's a winner, yeah
He's a gunslinger"


An excellent writer (and rather a better poet than Borrell, I'd hazard a guess) like Laura Barton could rip this chap to shreds. Instead, she lets him do the talking while slyly poking a little fun at him along the way. The newfound pin-up status rests awkwardly on his bony shoulders, she writes, moments before allowing him to observe that "If I saw me I'd want to speak to me, too - I'd think, 'That guy looks like he's from Mars, he's somehow strangely compelling. I don't even look human". Borrell, needless to say, looks exactly like the lead singer of every post-Strokes indie band in the Western world.

Like the Libertines, Razorlight trade heavily on faux-romantic london imagery. He spies London's charm in some unlikely corners, however, waxing about "the dirt on the streets, King's Cross, the feeling of having no money, waiting for the night bus and not getting on the night bus, arguing with the driver and having to walk home." Sigh. How is this different to Brett Anderson's vision of early 90s London? Clue - it isn't. And it's a lot less thrilling, too. If the likes of Razorlight and The Libertines' boring rhetoric has a like-minded antescedent it isn't Charles Dickens or The Clash (some hope) it's the pissy, cliche-ridden period of mid-Britpop mod revivalists, it's Thurman's "Oh, wouldn't it be nice / To drink some English Tea?" And musically, of course, Razorlight are just anaemic, sub-Strokes tosh.

Of course, that's not why I wrote this - I could single out any number of dreary, unimaginative indie boy-bands for abuse, but rarely do so; whatever. But it takes an idiot like Burrell, proclaiming loudly that rock music is a 'valid art form' (uh, where have you been for the last forty years, we all agreed on that decades ago!), recycling all that tired crap about driving a motorbike "as fast as I can", tapping into "your mojo", and then having the ignorance to say of your songwriting process: "It's like Borges ... when he wrote The Zahir and I." Ahem.

So. That got my goat.

I feel better now.


BB said...

I liked that, it was really well-written. That whole romantic London thing really gets on my wick.

Did you have fun posting on Conservative Commentary? It was vaguely sensible for a bit, but I think some of them are actually a bit disturbed. I'd better stop posting as my last one was just asking to be flamed.

Anonymous said...

you are talking out of your arse on a hundred different levels.

jonathan said...

how so?

Anonymous said...

Too true, just about spot on. Is it possible he was influenced by 'Squeeze'? and not just the 'up the junction' reference.

Begeegs said...

This is friggin excellent - this guy is an utter idiot who thinks that he is somehow an original when the originals have left us all behind.

Anonymous said...

My god. This guy really is a monumental idiot isn't he? What an ego! His band are OK, but he's an embarrasment.

Clive said...

what a tosser!

Anonymous said...

"Six in the morning and you rise and you fall, you got to
You got to grab what you can
Here comes your man, baby, he's a winner, yeah
He's a gunslinger"

i thought the lyrics were actually quite good :)

Jon said...

Well you're an idiot! He's one of the most talented writers for a long time. And so you can find a whole 4 lines which you dont understand! Gosh that must mean they are all wrong eh?! It's talentless losers like you who couldn't recognise a star right in front of them that allow people like ashley simpson in the charts. So do us all a favour? Get a real job and go away.

jonathan said...

Lines that I don't understand? I don't think that's the problem with them.

Although you do perceptively spot the fact that I would far rather Ashley Simpson was top of the charts than Razorlight, so credit to you for that.

Stevie said...

"Get a real job and go away."

Go away from where?? From his own blog?? How about you go away, cretin?

J is right about Razorlight.