Razorcuts

The Razorcuts – Storyteller / The World Keeps Turning (Re-issues) (Optic Nerve Records)

There really is no good reason as to why The Razorcuts never became household names. Arguably, their debut single proper, ‘Big Pink Cake‘, remains their best known song, if indeed the term “best known” could even apply to them, but that’s a crying shame because, while that was an interesting post-punk curio, it’s a bit like comparing post-John Foxx output by Ultravox with their earliest material. Skip just two years to 1988 and Storyteller, and it becomes abundantly clear that the band held a lot more depth than any of us initially would ever have imagined.

If anything, The Razorcuts were ahead of their time, clearly having been influenced, unlike most British bands of the period, partly by the alternative indie sounds coming from American college radio – possibly most notably R.E.M. – but also the ultra-melodic jangle pop of Orange Juice, while at the same time crucially developing a sound that ought to have seen them celebrated as, if not the godfathers of shoegaze, then at least the genre’s kindly uncle. That said, if anyone were to claim they fit squarely into that particular musical bracket, they really would end up looking rather silly.

Both the title track of Storyteller and ‘Try‘, which follows it, are bright and breezy numbers full of carefree abandon before the utterly lovely ‘A Contract With God‘ injects the most glorious sunshine into your soul, its blissful aura having more in common with the likes of Chapterhouse and even The Charlatans at their most charming.

The shimmering Byrds like guitars are an ever-present throughout Storyteller, which is perhaps the key thing that makes it such a vibrantly joyful record. If life was fair, the gorgeous ‘Jade‘ or the mesmerisingly pretty string-enhanced ‘Brighter Now‘ at the very least should have propelled them into the limelight for many years to come. There’s even a hark back to their ‘Big Pink Cake‘ days on the Buzzcocks like ‘I’ll Still be There‘. But sadly it wasn’t to be, and just one year – and one album – later, it was all over.

Razorcuts2

But what a great album it was…

I suppose if there IS a criticism to be made of 1989’s The World Keeps Turning, it’s merely the fact that there really isn’t a great deal of musical development. No boundary pushing here, but quite frankly who cares? These are just beautifully crafted tunes above all – they didn’t need any bells and whistles adding.

Still, I’m sure the band would argue that it opens with ‘Goodnight England‘, a pared back yet huge sounding semi-ballad in 3/4 time, which is admittedly something of an unexpected diversion, but then, immediately afterwards, we’re back into very familiar territory. What’s notable is how many of these songs have pleasingly euphoric pay-offs – see ‘Change‘ as a case in point – and the way frontman Gregory Webster effortlessly flits between the 12-string guitar effects of Roger McGuinn and the arpeggioed alt pop sound that recalls Johnny Marr.

Side two’s ‘Across The Meadow‘ puts us right back in that lazy, hazy, perfect picnic afternoon and we’re in no hurry to leave, the band soundtracking what feels like halcyon days – even if they are only in our heads – right through to the laid-back richness of the title track. Never has a band embodied the word ‘lovely’ than The Razorcuts.

The two vinyl re-issues both come, stunningly packaged, as part of a double album. Storyteller is coupled with eight early recordings, while The World Keeps Turning incorporates Selected Recordings 1986-1992 amongst its riches. Probably the most aesthetically pleasing of these is the latter long player’s ‘Sometimes‘, which brings the curtain down on proceedings, but there’s little to choose between them in all honesty. Plus the extensive sleeve notes in the 12″ colour booklets on the two respective records are quite exquisite.

It’s time to revisit The Razorcuts – they’re more than worth your precious time.

Storyteller and The World Keeps Turning are both released on double vinyl, on 20th June, through Optic Nerve Records.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.