“Genie, this is Aladdin. Print me a Razorlight album that doesn’t totally suck,” is the Adam Green line that begins the band’s first record in a decade. Not that you’d be able to tell, with the 12 tracks sounding like they were discovered in a mid-00s indie music time capsule.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, with the oddly-titled Olympus Sleeping finding Johnny Borrell going back to what he’s comfortable with and the result is an okay album only released 12 years too late.
All the bravado and quotes such as “I’m the best songwriter of my generation” haven’t painted his legacy in the best light. It’s also taken the attention away from the fact that he does have a knack for writing a catchy indie-rock tune. He did, and possibly still does, take himself far too seriously, and this arrogance has led to his musical qualities being often overlooked.
With his poorly received, jazz-infused solo album now a thing of the past, he’s stuck to what he does best for Olympus Sleeping and, in a sense, it’s admirable that he’s not followed any of the current trends. However, the album as a whole is essentially indie by numbers, with only a select few of the songs a good enough standard to match up against the quality found on Up All Night.
Other than Borrell, the four-piece are a completely different beast this time around, with Andy Burrows, Bjorn Agren and Carl Dalemo having been replaced by Gus Robertson, João Mello and David Sullivan-Kaplan. The frontman has also again handled the majority of the songwriting and recording duties.
Working with guitarist David Ellis and drummer Martin Chambers in the studio, he attempted to construct an LP with, “The electric energy of their first album, the pop-rock craftsmanship of the second and the lyrical ambition of the third.” It seems time hasn’t rid Borrell of his arrogance and ambition.
“I made this album with nothing written in mind than the sheer joy of music,” he said in a recent interview. “This album is more or less my love letter to this particular type of music (indie-rock/guitar pop), namely those that inspired so many people to start bands or to follow.”
The cringely titled ‘Got To Let The Good Times Back Into Your Life’ begins proceedings in monotonous fashion, before the likes of ‘Razorchild’ and ‘Brighton Pier’ pick things up, with the latter having more of a groove than we’ve been accustomed to from the group.
Meanwhile, the slick ‘Good Night’ and catchy ‘Japanrock’ are decent tracks, whilst recent single ‘Carry Yourself’ has some neat guitar work, but borders on being a pastiche of Two Door Cinema Club.
Olympus Sleeping is not a bad album and, if it had been released in 2006, then the name Razorlight would have been in a much larger font on festival posters compared to where they’ll find themselves next summer.
Yet, this doesn’t deter from the fact that it fails to offer anything new other than a brief nostalgia for the mid-00s indie scene. It’s energetic, full of witty lyrics and catchy melodies, but it’ll most likely be forgotten by the masses within six months.