Known for their hooky, post-punk-influenced sound, Britain's Razorlight first emerged with 2004's Up All Night, showcasing lead singer Johnny Borrell and evincing an amalgam of influences from the Strokes to Television. Following their number three-charting debut in the U.K., they landed at number one in the U.K. with 2006's Razorlight, which spawned the hit single "America." The band has endured myriad lineup changes over the years, with Borrell serving as the sole constant member. After going on a studio hiatus in 2014, Razorlight roared back in 2018 with their fourth full-length effort, Olympus Sleeping.
Formed in London in 2002, Razorlight initially came together after vocalist/guitarist Johnny Borrell decided to move away from his previous acoustic work, and join forces with guitarist/vocalist (and Swedish ex-pat) Björn Ågnen. Following the addition of bassist Carl Dalemo and drummer Christian Smith-Pancorvo, the combo recorded several demos at London's Toe Rag studios, and those songs led to radio exposure and the initial stirrings of hype. Mercury Records signed Razorlight in 2003, and the group began recording its debut album amidst a series of hectic (and increasingly buzzworthy) club gigs, working with no less an authority than Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite soon left the project, but Razorlight continued to write and record the album while still wowing audiences with a spate of live dates, including a strong showing at the 2004 South by Southwest industry fest.
At this point, drummer Smith-Pancorvo left the group and was soon replaced by Andy Burrows. Thus reconfigured, Razorlight made their official album debut in August 2004 with Up All Night. The release was hailed for its stylish, fizzy mix of Strokes-styled sensibilities and post-Brit-pop cool. Additional show dates opening for the likes of Queen (with vocalist Paul Rodgers) and Oasis gave Razorlight some of their biggest audiences in 2005, adding to the bandmates' growing popularity in their native U.K.
The band's second offering, the Chris Thomas-produced Razorlight, arrived in summer 2006 and yielded Razorlight's first chart-topping single, "America." The album itself also topped the U.K. charts, going multi-platinum in the process. The band maintained their presence on British radio throughout 2007 before embracing a slick, mainstream pop/rock style on 2008's Slipway Fires. Featuring the singles "Wire to Wire" and "Hostage of Love," the album peaked at number five of the U.K. albums chart. Following the album's release, drummer Burrows left the band to be replaced by David Sullivan Kaplan.
By 2010, both Dalemo and Ågren had left the band, leaving Borrell as the sole original member. This version of Razorlight (with added guitarist Gus Robertson and bassist Freddie Stitz) stayed busy playing live, including headlining both Guilfest and Brighton's Shakedown Festival in 2011. Borrell then took a break to work on his solo album, 2013's Borrell 1. The following year, he rejoined his bandmates for several concerts, including a show at Camden's Electric Ballroom which marked the tenth anniversary of their debut album.
Over the next few years, the band continued to make live appearances as Borrell developed both Razorlight and solo material. Also during this period, Robertson and Stitz were replaced by guitarist David Ellis and bassist Harry Deacon. In 2018, the band released Olympus Sleeping, their fourth full-length album, and first since Slipway Fires. That same year, Borrell issued the solo single "My World, Your Life." 2019 saw the release of the one-off single "Cops and Robbers," with "Burn, Camden, Burn" arriving the following year. ~ Johnny Loftus