Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Razorlight 'Wire To Wire'

Chart Peak: 5
Johnny, Andy, Carl and Bjorn, A.K.A. Razorlight, released their third album Slipway Fires in early November 2008... The first single from the album, the emotional piano-led 'Wire To Wire', reached No.5 in the UK chart in October 2008 and became their 9th Top 40 hit
Their ninth and also their last: the follow-up single failed to trouble the Top 200. I can't remember offhand what it was called but I do remember Johnny Borrell singing "You say you've been born again since you slept in the lion's den," so no wonder it put people off.

Off the back of the huge success of the Razorlight album and the Number One single 'America', Johnny Borrell's ego was going stratospheric at this point, repulsing as many as it attracted. Dare I say there were some people hoping to see them crash and burn at this point, and that I might even have been one of them? 'Wire To Wire' was a surprising choice of comeback - not the sort of obvious hit a record label might have mandated from a less confident act, but also not the sort of wilfully endless multipart epic you might have feared at this juncture. In fact it's a fairly modest piece of music, running less than three minutes and quite understated in arrangement. It's actually rather effective because it keeps you waiting for a big show-off moment that never happens, and is very well arranged around the main piano part, which is also very well recorded. It's a pity that Borrell's vocal spoils it with that distinctive tone of a man who thinks he's a much better singer than he is, and whose voice simply doesn't suit the tone or style of the song. It also attracts attention to pretentious lyrics like "She lives on Disillusion Row/We go where the wild blood flows" - notice the Bob Dylan reference in there for extra self-importance.

The band effectively split after this: drummer and co-writer left in early 2009, and the other members departed in 2010. Borrell toured with an all-new line-up for a couple of years, then put the group on "hiatus" to release a solo album which infamously sold only 594 copies in its first week of release. As a result of the backlash, I hadn't heard this song for nearly four years and I must admit it was much more pleasant to come back to than I expected. I don't especially recommend the video though, unless you want to see lots of close-ups of Borrell with his shirt open.

Also appearing on: Now 58, 61, 64, 65, 66
Available on: Slipway Fires

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