Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Album Reviews by Nigel Gould

RAZORLIGHT - Slipway Fires (Vertigo/Mercury)

The fickle world of pop/rock can be brutal — and unforgiving.

Today’s muso darlings can soon become yesterday’s men — unless there is a darn good Plan B.

And Razorlight, like Keane and to a lesser extent The Verve, will soon find that reputations count for little if the quality is lacking.

Over the last few months both Keane and the recently revived Verve have released disappointingly average albums prompting lukewarm responses from critics and music fans alike.

While Razorlight’s last self-titled album garnered massive hits such as America and In the Morning, latest long player, Slipway Fires has little to offer by the way of big hitters.

Like him or loathe him, there’s no denying Johnny Borrell is a decent songwriter and frontman – but really only Tabloid Lover, Burberry Blue Eyes and the lovely Stinger emerges with any real credit from the 11 tracks.

If this is Plan B, Razorlight are in trouble.

FOREVER THE SICKEST KIDS - Underdog Alma Mater (Universal)

The unequivocally crazy name suggests some sort of slapstick parody of the archetypal indie band.

And Forever The Sickest Kids certainly possess a zany sense of humour and penchant for the wacky — as this debut album demonstrates. But there’s nothing gimmicky, barking or send-up about the music.

The Dallas-born ‘kids’ have the uncanny knack of turning out catchy, astute pop tunes such as

Hey Brittany and the wonderful The Way She Moves.

Surely it won’t be long before they swap the underground for the mainstream big-time.

SNOW PATROL - A Hundred Million Suns (Polydor)

When the history books are written Snow Patrol will undoubtedly be remembered best for two multi-platinum selling albums that catapulted them into an A-list musical stratosphere.

But while no-one could dispute the quality of both Final Straw and Eyes Open, new longplayer, A Hundred Million Suns is a more complete collection than its big brothers.

On this album, Northern Ireland’s Snow Patrol explore a whole range of musical styles rather than rely on the stadium rock slow-burner formula a la Chasing Cars.

A Hundred Million Suns stands up to repeated plays and, make no mistake, will continue to improve with age. Best are Lifeboats, The Golden Floor and the 16-minute long quality-street piece of genius that is The Lightning Strike.

THE JEFF HEALEY BAND - Hell To Pay (SPV Blue Label)

The world of blues is certainly a much poorer place without the talents of blind blues guitarist Jeff Healey.

The Canadian sadly passed away earlier this year but his memory lives on in his music – and particularly 1990’s Hell To Pay which is to be revisited as part of a new series of old work by SPV.

Some of Healey’s finest moments are contained within Hell To Pay including I Think I Love You Too Much with Mark Knopfler and a superb version of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

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