At the Cockpit, Leeds
Friday January 23, 2004
Newcomers Razorlight are proof that pop careers are being built ever faster. The London band were signed to the Vertigo label last year in the rush to unearth a British Strokes, and although they've released just two singles, their press cuttings file contains a small rainforest and they occupy much of Radio 1's airtime.
The Strokes are an apt comparison, if only because, like the New Yorkers, Razorlight may never have listened to any music other than the Velvet Underground's Loaded, Television's Marquee Moon and Patti Smith's Horses. From a distance, frontman Johnny Borrell is a ringer for the Strokes' Julian Casablancas, although closer up there's more of a 1970s Jagger feel about him. He covers more stage inches in 40 frenetic minutes than Casablancas has in the past two years.
The band are derivative but have a clutch of snappy tunes. Hey Girl is virtually the entire Marquee Moon album crammed into three minutes (Television will wonder how they managed to stretch the same sound out to several albums); Rock'n'Roll Lies is instantly memorable. However, for much of the set the feeling of deja vu is more 2002-03 than 1977.
They are more than capable of messing with the formula, dabbling in white reggae or unleashing torrents of fluid guitar. Borrell excels himself by leaping on the speakers for lengthy Patti Smith-type narratives, dark tales of young lives lost in the bright lights that could be eerily close to home.
What Razorlight need to do is to put some distance between themselves and the Strokes, musically. Not only do they sound better, but the poor public response to the New Yorkers' second album bodes ill for those following too closely in their wake.
· At the Louisiana, Bristol, tonight. Box office: 0117-929 9008.