Since The Smiths broke up in 1987, Johnny Marr has jumped around from band to band collecting all sorts of accolades along the way. He has played on a US No. 1 album with Modest Mouse, as well as contributing to a multi-award winning soundtrack written by Hans Zimmer. It therefore seems ridiculous that it is only now that Johnny Marr is releasing his first solo album, just two days before he will receive the God Like Genius award from the NME.
The question on everyone’s lips upon first listen: how does the album compare to the guitar style of The Smiths? To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t.
Despite it not sounding anything like a Smiths record, the album does still show strong similarities to the riffs that made Marr’s guitar playing iconic, especially on tracks like ‘Generate Generate’ and ‘European Me’.
What may also come as a surprise to listeners are the themes explored on the album. The lyrics are almost antithetical to those of his ex-songwriting partner Morrissey. Marr focuses on his relationship to the business of modern life as opposed to ‘drippy’ talk of emotions, which he says he has no interest in listening to, never mind writing about. The lead single, ‘Upstarts’, doesn’t really match the calibre of the rest of the album, so if it didn’t strike a chord with you, then it is definitely still worth listening to The Messenger as a whole. Apart from you, David Cameron. You’re not allowed to like it.
Words: Tom Sharkett