You have to wonder who the happier man is - Johnny Borrell, still trying to drag a fourth album out of the embers of the Razorlight franchise this far on from the poorly received Slipway Fires, or Andy Burrows, the band's former drummer whose departure in 2009 due to personal and professional reasons seemed to mark the start of their tailspin.
Burrows has certainly been the busier, quitting Britain for New York three years ago, falling in with Keith Murray of We Are Scientists and then with Editors' Tom Smith arguably reinventing the concept of the Christmas album with the mellifluous Funny Looking Angels. Returning now with his first "Proper" solo album, the introverted Burrows recently admitted that whilst in Razorlight, it had been his love-hate relationship with Borrell which spurred his song writing on; Company is less than ground breaking musically, but seemingly hanging his own name over its doorway can be equated to a major personal step forward.
This lack of ego is a little surprising when you remember that, after all, this is the man who penned Razorlight's arena friendly apex America, but anyone using that as a cautionary tale here is being over anxious. Written, co-produced and with most of the instrumentation played by Burrows, the reality is that Company is frequently down tempo, occasionally maudlin, and any bombast is in very limited quantities. Burrows is also quick to point out that essentially this is a "Pop" record - just not in a Gangnam Style way - and with its rich, slightly antiquated harmonies and uncluttered production he has a strong case.
Remarkably, in these days of download immediacy, its payload also takes some time to work its way under the listener's skin. The titular opener seems almost deliberately low key, Burrows sounding admirably vulnerable, whilst Because I Know That I Can edges gently towards the heavy lidded seventies ennui of the Laurel Canyon song writing cabal. Lyrically describing Company as "An honest account of where my life is at the moment", he's making an admission that should raise a few eyebrows, especially given words like "So forget the lies, yeah I told them out of spite" (Crosby Stills & Nash sound-a-like If I Had A Heart) and "Falling Deeper In Love With Myself" (Shaking The Colour).
Despite some of the apparent character misanthropy in play, the singer rarely, if ever, sounds genuinely wary. Occasionally he'll spring a surprise like the unexpected ragtime breakdown during Maybe You, or the rockier guitar outbursts and vintage Rhodes of Keep On Moving On, but Company is very much a record conclusively at peace with itself. Slight at less than 35 minutes duration, its creator also knows better than to outstay a welcome and by the time closer Pet Air has slipped by, the listener is caught between a sense of mellow satisfaction and the feeling that perhaps too little has happened. Maybe this statement of a new found confidence to make the record he wanted to make was the intention all along. If so, perhaps Johnny's therapist needs to give Andy a call.
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