MAINLINE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
To be released on April 9, 2021 (Rob Mules Records)
Norway’s Razorbats are a bit of an enigma really — massively lauded internationally for their 2015 album Camp Rock with success trappings almost imminent — they then changed singers at that height. The resulting album II also altered their style more than slightly, and was far less well received three years later.
So my expectations were mixed when faced with the promisingly titled third album Mainline Rock ‘N’ Roll and hardly exceeded by the standard, rather plodding opener “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” which name checks a lot of ’70s classic rock songs and seemingly contains a fascination for the film Easy Rider. The current single “Working For The Weekend” quickly follows and has a much more instant feel that perhaps should have opened the album. Lyrically, it’s the typical doing a meaningless 9 to 5 job just to get out on a Saturday and have a rocking good time. Been said a thousand times before of course, but it works here with its Cheap Trick style vibe. “Rebel Soul” continues the late ’70s stadium rocker feel and is none the worse for it. “Little Miss Crazy” is a mid-tempo affair recounting a particular fan, but is one of those tracks which you want to dismiss as pedestrian but simply can’t because it is hugely infectious. “Big Time” has a similar effect with more fine work from guitarists, Kjetil F Werling and Alse Tangen, further adding to the enjoyment.
“The City” reverts to the pop-punk style that was much lamented on their second album, but it does have an energetic, enjoyable atmosphere. Similarly, “Cocaine Karma” tries to mix the ’70s Faces storytelling style with a pop-punk gloss but has the added bonus of excellent bass work by Martin Herrig and the solid pounding of drummer Christian Hapnes Svendsen that carry it along perfectly, making it an unexpected highlight of the set. “White Trash Radio” – which has been released as a single – is up next and is a pleasant if basic track, again in the pop-punk style. The very pretty ballad “Venice” follows with a fine vocal from Paul Vercouteren. It is a lovely song but does seem slightly out of place this far into the album. Perhaps sandwiched in the middle of the set to illustrate what is obviously a change in styles may have been better suited, because it just feels wrong where it is. The album ends with the back to basics rocker “Nightcrawlers” that creates the required late night atmosphere, and with faultless ensemble playing, which leaves you wanting to take a midnight stroll and find a late night coffee bar to listen to in the right setting.
It’s an album of two halves really. The first 5 songs channel their often mentioned ’70s classic rock styling and give them a more modern, sleazy tinge; whilst the following four have far more of the pop-punk leanings that they were previously criticized for, whilst the last track appears to amalgamate both. So did it meet those expectations I had at the start ? Probably not quite, but it is an improvement on the previous album and a solid attempt to reclaim the heights of Camp Rock. The problem being that the band members themselves seem to have an identity crisis and can’t decide to either follow the classic, sleaze spiked influences that obviously permeate their best songs, or continue mixing it with the pop punky elements so evident on the latter half of this album. Razorbats as a whole, are evidently having a good time and that enjoyment clearly comes across in the production, but their identity crisis is really a decision that needs addressing very shortly as it could indeed prevent this very, very good band from becoming a great one.
01. Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids
02. Working For The Weekend
03. Rebel Soul
04. Little Miss Crazy
05. Big Time
06. The City
07. Cocaine Karma
08. White Trash Radio
Paul Vercouteren – vocals
Kjetil F. Werling – guitar
Alse Tangen – guitar
Martin Herrig – bass
Christian Hapnes Svendsen – drums
Reviewed by Rockney Colin for Sleaze Roxx, April 2021
Razorbats‘ “Working For The Weekend” video:
Razorbats‘ “Little Miss Crazy” video:
Razorbats‘ “White Trash Radio” video: