Razorlight, 'Slipway Fires' (Mercury)

Critical Mass
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by Jon Young

Razorlight's photogenic frontman Johnny Borrell is a genuine media sensation in England -- note covers of British Vogue and GQ -- but he's also a skillful, sometimes perceptive songwriter. Slipway Fires examines rocky romances, from the stomping "You and the Rest" to the folky "Go Thompson," pausing for a cautionary tale about celebrity (the semifunky "Tabloid Lover"). Too bad the performances are so lamely tossed-off. Borrell's quavering vocals feel showy and shallow, while the quartet's glossy guitar pop could come from any crew of faceless studio hacks.

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