Like Casablancas after The Strokes, or maybe Obama after Bush, Johnny Borrell's ex-drummer offers some interesting contrasts
[a]Andy Burrows[/a] probably endured heavier shit storms than [a]Kings Of Leon[/a] did the other week during his five-year stint as Razorlightâ€™s drummer. But even a list of the atrocities Johnny Borrell committed against indie-rock â€“ a lengthy screed that features topless (save for a leather jacket) poses astride his Harley Davidson, that god-awful song about his â€œ[i]hot-bodied girlfriend[/i]â€ (shudder) and an outrageously self-important third album that displayed a more intense Messianic complex than even David Icke has been able to muster â€“ doesnâ€™t fully account for the â€œpersonal differencesâ€ that Burrows cited so politely as the reason for his [a]Razorlight[/a] exit. In order to get a clearer picture of what he really meant, just listen to his full-length debut proper.
[b]â€˜Sun Comes Up Againâ€™[/b] blurs the line between feel-good and bone-weary, as on the skittery, [a]Tunng[/a]-like [b]â€˜Far Enough Awayâ€™[/b] and the twinkly-toed [b]â€˜No Wonderâ€™[/b], two songs that exude a feeling thatâ€™s part post-Razorlight shellshock and part huge sigh of relief. Thereâ€™s tenderness too â€“ the same Burrows brought to â€˜The Colour of My Dreamsâ€™, the short, kidsâ€™ poetry-inspired album he released in 2008 to raise funds for a childrenâ€™s hospice.
He hasnâ€™t changed things a great deal since that 13-minute release, just fleshed out the ideas and allowed us further into his record collection. And refreshingly for all but the hoariest, it doesnâ€™t appear to include any [a]U2[/a] or Springsteen. Bliss. Rather, â€˜Sun Comes Up Againâ€™ is dominated by the sweet songwriterly pop of Todd Rundgren, Macca and ELO, as well as a grab-bag of influences that show Burrows to be agreeably earthy, like the lo-fi funk of sorely missed nearly men [a]Clor[/a], the implausibly melodic US pop of [a]Brendan Benson[/a] and [a]Elliott Smith[/a], and the gently heart-buffeting emotion of [a]The Beta Band[/a] and [a]Steve Mason[/a].
In spite of its short burst of Dick Dale twang, [b]â€˜Nice Tryâ€™[/b] is an ear-worming, piano-helmed indie-lounge song delivered in sweet falsetto, in which Burrows sings â€œ[i]Nice try, but weâ€™re never going to make this fit[/i]â€; [b]â€˜Green Grassâ€™[/b] grooves eccentrically about dreams gone wrong; and â€˜Bruisesâ€™ seems to be the most cathartic and near-overwrought of these pretty songs. Most are about breaking up and feeling bereft, but itâ€™s difficult to imagine that heâ€™s hankering after Razorlight. And though the album begins to wear a little thin over 14 tracks all played in one speed â€“ slowly undulating â€“ itâ€™s never guilty of being lacklustre.
â€˜Sun Comes Up Againâ€™ is so warm-natured, easy-going and mellifluous that its charms are nigh on impossible to fend off, which isnâ€™t something that can be said too often about the tunes written by Burrowsâ€™ former paymaster. As many students discover two-thirds of the way through a degree, though, what was once an appealing challenge can end up being a valuable lesson in just what it is you donâ€™t want to do. And what Burrows learned during his time with Razorlight is that penning pompous, posturing songs that are so patently false they could fill Katie Priceâ€™s bra isnâ€™t going to provide much job satisfaction for a burgeoning songwriter with a beating, empathetic heart.
This album is such a welcome surprise, in fact, that itâ€™s curious to think that â€˜Sun Comes Up Againâ€™ might never have been noticed or released at all had Razorlight not ditched original drummer Christian Smith-Pancorvo for the sin of managing his strict superfood diet at the expense
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of recording his drum parts, or so said Borrell. If Burrows gifted Razorlight two of their biggest hits (in â€˜Americaâ€™ and â€˜Before I Fall To Piecesâ€™), what his former band gave him in return was the platform to bring something far more interesting into the light of day. Welcome the new dawn.
[i]What do you think of the album? Let us know by posting a comment below.[/i]
Click here to get your copy of I Am Arrows’ ‘Sun Comes Up Again’ from the Rough Trade shop.