Johnny Borrell Donsprosthetic nose


Johnny Borrell dons prosthetic nose in video for new single

Johnny Borrell must have a skin thicker than a whale wearing a coat made of another whale’s skin stuffed with elephant seals. Following the critical mauling and embarrassingly low sales (594 copies shifted in the first week) for his debut solo album (optimistically titled Borrell 1, suggesting the former Razortlight frontman has plans for many more solo opuses in the pipeline), any self-respecting human would have lain low, licked their wounds and then got the gang back together for a reunion tour. 

Not Bozza, a man with the planet-sized ego of a proper rock star, who has instead lifted Cyrano Masochiste, one of the more ridiculous and pretentious songs from an album that set a new benchmark for ridiculous pretentiousness, and released it as a single. Not only that, the black and white video that accompanies the tune features our hero sporting a comedy nose a la Cyrano de Bergerac, while the song blends jaunty to the point of irritating pianos, incongruous twanging country guitars and Borrell bleating on in an exaggerated stagey delivery usually reserved for show-offs doing B-Tec Drama. Choice lines include this opening couplet – “I am a masochiste, you are a narcissist, aren’t you glad I exist?” Erm, not really, but its hard to look away at the moment. Later on we get, “Freemasons build with bricks, savages build with sticks.” Eat yer heart out Sartre.

If Borrell had previously shown any signs of self-awareness or an inclination to send himself up, you could speculate that he’s just having a bit of a laugh. Or, failing that, a nervous breakdown. But there’s still a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that maybe the joke is on us. Perhaps this is all a clever stunt in the vein of Joaquin Phoenix growing a massive beard and pretending to be a rapper, in which Borrell sees how spectacularly he can sabotage an already ailing music career. If he had just released an average album of middling indie-rock would anyone be talking about him? Better to go out with a massive pretentious bang, than a whimper, eh? And maybe Chris Morris is somewhere behind the scenes orchestrating the whole thing for an entertaining spoof biopic. More likely is that Borrell is just a grade-A berk. After all, this is a man who rode a motorbike around his house and then took umbrage at the journalist who reported the story, not for the story itself, but for getting the make of motorbike wrong. 

Cyrano Masochiste is out on Stiff Records on September 30

Joe Clay