**THIS REVIEW IS FROM PITCHFORK - AUGUST 19 2004, I JUST THOUGHT THIS WAS FUNNY!**
New UK press darlings' full-length debut is yet another appropriation of garage-rock past and present, snagging its sound most notably from The Strokes and Television.
Courtesy of NME, I present to you this year's worst band ever. Razorlight are Britain's latest response to garage-rock's attempted world takeover (The Libertines were the first), and they hope to win your love by borrowing tricks from some of your favorite artists-- including The Strokes, Television, Lou Reed, and even Bruce Springsteen.
Certainly, the burden of the past is always a bitch, but saying that Razorlight wear their influences on their sleeves is perhaps giving them too much credit. The band simply doesn't possess the energy or conviction to qualify their songs as mimicries, let alone exculpate their sinful lack of identity-- the notion of developing a "Razorlight sound" may not have even crossed their minds yet, and might possibly never. At nearly every turn of their flaccid debut, Up All Night, Razorlight squander the ideas they've snatched up from other, more talented acts, then somehow find even more ways to ruin already perfectly uninteresting songs.
The tacked-on piano prelude to "Leave Me Alone" gives way to the song's main riff, a thick guitar grind that's doubled on bass and chipped away by the hi-hat 16ths of now ex-drummer Christian Smith-Pancorvo. The energy level is passable, but falls a few notches with every "Marquee Moon" breakdown the band invokes, until the song ends with barely a whimper. "Which Way Is Out" further encourages Television comparisons-- the tenor of the verse's guitar catcalls are so similar to, again, "Marquee Moon" that one has to wonder if it's the only Television song Razorlight has ever heard. The song nosedives when its wonderwall of plastic distortion kicks in at the chorus.
Maybe it's another "if you can't beat' em, steal their schtick" sort of schtick, but Razorlight really hit up The Strokes for ideas on a number of tracks. Even their song titles are curiously Strokes-like ("Leave Me Alone", "Which Way Is Out", "Get It and Go", "Up All Night"). The opening guitar twitches on "Stumble and Fall" came right off Room on Fire's "Automatic Stop", while "Rip It Up" would be an expert Is This It forgery were the lyrics not so asinine: "Hey Girl! Get on the dance floor! Rip it up! That's what it's there for!"
Ultimately, though, it's Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell who decimates Up All Night. The poor guy's all over the place, admirably (but stupidly) attempting to match a song's stolen vibe by impersonating the affectations of its respective frontman. He's virtually never believable: The Casablancan "and uhh's" and "ah well uh's" on "Rock 'n' Roll Lies" sound particularly empty. When he's not desperately trying to emote ("Vice") or to intimidate ("Get It and Go"), Borrell seems most natural on the kiddie-punk breakdown of "Dalston" and the "Maneater" tribute "Golden Touch". Neither song is particularly great, but Borrell's delivery on each is at least partially convincing. Of course, even at their best, Razorlight refuse to meet their influences with anything more than half hugs and limp handshakes, butchering the bits they brazenly borrow, and taking rock 'n' roll apathy to formerly unbelievable lengths. - Nick Sylvester