Review: Johnny Marr – The Messenger

The Messenger is the debut solo album from The Smiths’ legendary guitarist, Johnny Marr. Following a few decades of creatively helping other artists, such as Modest Mouse and The Pet Shop Boys to name but a few, Marr has finally released his own piece of work – an album built entirely around the theme of cities and buildings.

49-year-old Marr recorded the 12-track album in Berlin making sure that each song took on a different musical style. Each tune tells a tale, with the album almost acting like a storybook giving us a glimpse into 25 years of the edgy genres Marr has written music through.

Opening track, “The Right Thing Right” acts as a tribute to the new wave of northern soul all-nighters and how as a generation we are ‘cyber-whipped’ by the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc.

Album highlight “Upstarts” is an almost anthemic tune inspired by riots in his home town of Manchester against the hikes in primary school fees, has some of the same cramped pub-rock intensity rendered by The Cribs, and is presumably a style Marr picked up during his recent stint with the Yorkshire based indie-group.

Marr, who is scheduled to play Coachella in April, brings listeners through feelings of homesickness, rage and passion and though his song-writing may bring him down on some tracks, such as the almost cringey “I Want The Heartbeat”, his guitar playing and slashing power chords still wow.

With a reunion of The Smiths as likely to happen as lectures on a Saturday morning this album is proof that Marr doesn’t require Morrissey’s reflected light to achieve big things.

To Smiths fans or indeed people with ears there is no doubt that Marr’s The Messenger has well and truly delivered.

Rating: 4/5

Megan Ecock

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