Monday, 19 May 2014

The Razorbills

The Razorbills have just released their second album, Like Everbody Else. Expectations are high, but before I give it a spin, this might be a good moment to dig out my review of their 2012 debut...

To Hell With Youth And Beauty (Lost Wasp Records)

The clue is in the album title. Scottish ‘indie-folk-pop’ band The Razorbills are not chasing the teen market. They’re making music for grown-ups.

It’s primarily an acoustic line-up, with prominent banjo and mandolin from Harry Thomson and violin from Michelle McClure. But the sound is infused with an electric energy and unpredictable quirkiness that steers well clear of the over-praised Mumfords’ territory. 

Alan McClure, lead vocalist and chief songwriter, is a distinctive talent, sometimes reminiscent of fellow Scot Mike Heron. As a lyricist he’s a master of the witty put-down. (‘It’s not my job to think on a global scale | So kindly shut your gob’ may not be everyone’s idea of an eco-anthem.) But he can do serious as well: ‘God Forgotten’ meditates on the disillusionment following a religious upbringing. With one ear cocked to his folk heritage, McClure adds catchy, danceable tunes, and, deftly supported by the rhythm section of Jon Noad and Richard Ipaint, the whole thing takes off.  

I first discovered The Razorbills through their friendship with 1960s folk icon Shelagh McDonald. Appropriately, much of the music here – ‘Flower In The 60s’ an obvious example – sounds like a creative engagement with the past. Definitely a band on the up.

First published in R2 (Rock’n’Reel). Look out for my review of Alan McClure's solo album in the current issue.