Razorlight (Bonus Version)

Razorlight (Bonus Version)

Razorlight's eponymous second album not only avoids the sophomore slump, it refines the disparate influences of their promising debut into a more satisfying — if deja vu-prone — whole. While there's no denying the UK band wear their Rock of the 80s affections proudly on their sleeves throughout — particularly on the rambunctious, INXS-mugs-Boomtown Rats opener "In the Morning" and the early U2 influences of "Pop Song 2006" — songwriter/frontman Johnny Borrell uses them as building blocks, rather than mere touchstones. Borrell may channel some vintage Chrissie Hynde angst into "Hold On," but he also seems to have discovered where it all began on "Before I Fall to Pieces" and "Who Needs Love," tracks that recall the '50s in general and Dion in particular. Borrell's bandmates also rise to the occasion, with Bjorn Agren's focused guitar licks underscoring the album's stripped-down pop economy. The effervescent UK chart-topper "America" contrasts sharply with the ambitious, sprawling drama of the closing "Los Angeles Waltz," an arc that better argues the band's true range and potential.

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