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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 08:21 GMT
Sound of 2004: Razorlight
Singer Johnny Borrell (second right) founded Razorlight
Rock band Razorlight have come fourth in BBC News Online's Sound of 2004 poll to find the best new music talent.

The survey's top five is being counted down every day this week with the winner and full top 10 published on Friday.

"Our songs and the music we make are going to be an unstoppable force from now on, you know what I mean?"

This is a typical statement from Razorlight singer and songwriter Johnny Borrell, whose supreme confidence in his band's rip-roaring three-minute rock songs makes universal fame and acclaim sound like an easy next step.

Borrell and his band come from a punkish, infectious, slightly raucous and very English school of rock that was once mastered by The Clash and The Jam, and has now been revived by The Libertines.

Borrell, 22, does not come across as cocky, but feels that the talent in his group will make the world fall in love with them very soon. There is little doubt, he says - it is all down to "science".


"You get talent and you get raw ability and you put them together and you work at it," he says.

What comes out of the other end is an album that will "wipe the floor with a lot of records", he says.

It has "got better songs on it than anyone's heard on a debut album in a long, long time".

This certainty comes after several years of graft on the north London rock circuit for Borrell, who went to school with Libertines bassist John Hassall and sometimes played with the band as they worked their way up the scene's ranks.

The Libertines are "old mates of mine", Borrell says. "We were always really close and I never wanted to join their band when they asked me because I've got my own thing."

The Libertines' Carl Barat (left) and Pete Doherty
Razorlight have risen through the ranks behind The Libertines
But he took some time to settle on what "his own thing" was going to be. Starting as a solo artist, he was described by Time Out magazine as an "up and coming blues boy" in November 2001.

Six months later, the same publication said he was a "poet cum rootsy songster" and Von Bondies singer Jason Stollsteimer once described Borrell as an Iggy Pop-style singer with two Tina Tuner-type backing singers.

But things started to fall into place in 2002 when Borrell met Swedish guitarist Bjorn Agren after placing an advert in NME.

"Bjorn's quite an exceptional guitar player - he has this phenomenal instinct and intelligence," Borrell says. "It was just exactly right."

Agren enlisted friend and fellow Swede, bassist Carl Dalemo, and Borrell called up the half-Peruvian, half-English Christian Smith-Pancorvo, who previously drummed for rock contenders Stony Sleep.

If John Keats was around today, he'd be playing the guitar
Johnny Borrell
From that point, things began to move quickly and two singles, Rock 'n' Roll Lies and Rip It Up, attracted much attention.

He sees music as the most accessible art form in the modern world and wants to use it to inspire people, he says.

"If John Keats was around today, he'd be playing the guitar," Borrell says.

"[Music] is this fantastic thing where you can talk, you can tell a story, you can sing nonsense that turns people on, or you can sing something meaningful that turns people on - you can do whatever you want. It works on every level."

Borrell describes making music as the only thing he knows how to do - his "job" - and is not just in it to live out his rock fantasies.

"I just want to dig deeper than that, and I've always tried to dig deeper than that," he says.

"It's a thing that I can't switch off - I'm always, always writing."

  • The Sound of 2004 survey was compiled from the tips of almost 60 impartial music critics and broadcasters, who were asked to give three names of artists they thought would be successful in 2004. The artists who got the most tips were then ranked in order to compile the Sound of 2004 list.

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