Johnny Borrell & Zazou - The Atlantic Culture - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Johnny Borrell & Zazou - The Atlantic Culture

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2016-03-11

After the highs of Razorlight, Johnny Borrell seemed to go underground, with every utterance of his name mocking him as some pretentious, washed up sod. If you’ve followed him closely enough you’ll know that The Atlantic Culture is not his first foray outside of Razorlight, in fact, it will probably take you a little by surprise.

While his vocals and delivery style are still recognisable, this album is not filled with the foppish, guitar-indie you might know him for. Sure, the continental, roots and blues sounds which are heaped into this album by Zazou make things feel a little pretentious, but there are actually some cracking songs on this album.

‘Swim Like A Star’ may ramble on in a seemingly never ending dance but the words are weaved together well and the harmonies are on point. Meanwhile, ‘60 Thompson’ has a sweet melody and waves of orchestral movements, but it’s the imagery conjured by the lyrics which is best enjoyed “heels are capsized by the door” being one choice line.

‘Black God’ builds and builds but could do with being a couple of minutes shorter, it leads to your brain disengaging. There are plenty of mis-matched songs, which can either be the thing which makes this album great, or lead it to be a shambles depending on how you feel about this much variation. ‘The Ego Song’ bumps along like a classic bit of folk, while ‘Cacambo’s March’ has a distinctive latin flavour.

The Dylan cover as a closing track is nicely executed, but is once again a strange addition to the mixture. It all adds up to a fairly bizarre mixture of songs, stuttering in it's order, but you can’t help but feel this is far better than anything Razorlight would bring forward these days - while they were fine for their time, it’s this kind of pizazz and openness (whether pretentious or not) which makes for good music.

Intriguing, confusing, but altogether an enjoyable romp, Borrell and his new rag-tag crew deserve your respect more than you might first have thought. There is craft and guile and a genuine want to play music with various influences. If nothing else, he’ll always be worth a listen for, allegedly, putting Pete Doherty on the floor.

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I think Borrell should continue down this road even if this doesn't sell. One day people will catch up.

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