It doesn’t take a genius to realise that Johnny Borrell clearly resides on a different planet to most. During his time as leader of Razorlight there was, to name but a few things, the dressing all in white, the motorbike, the dissing of Dylan, and the ridiculous press shot of his cobbled together new line-up.
Most of which is just about forgivable (apart from the Dylan bit) when your band is churning out better-than-most-people-would-care-to-admit guitar pop, and those first two albums were both certainly that. However, with his persona he had set himself up for a fall and when 2008’s Slipway Fires fell spectacularly short of the mark, there seemed to be a long queue just waiting to put the boot in.
That it’s taken five years, the regrouping and then the disintegration of Razorlight for Borrell to release any more music shows just how much he had lost his way. ‘Pan European Supermodel Song (Oh! Gina)’ is the first single from his debut solo album, Borrell 1, and on first listen sounds like the type of thing that Razorlight should have followed their 2006 self-titled record with. This is pop. There is saxophone. Borrell still knows how to write a ludicrous lyric. But, most importantly perhaps, the melody and Borrell’s deliver are top drawer. There is fun in here, there is playfulness in here.
Many will ridicule. Not us. Just relax and remember: liking the new Johnny Borrell single isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Listen to ‘Pan European Supermodel Song (Oh! Gina)’ below. Borrell 1 is out on the 22nd July.