Johnny Marr - The Messenger

Guitar god with feet of clay

Marr’s reputation as arguably
the best British guitarist of
the last 30 years is richly
deserved, as time and again
he’s brought personality and
eloquence to a varied
portfolio of music. On the
evidence of his debut solo
album, however, he has
a long way to go before he
earns any great plaudits as
a singer-songwriter.

There are plenty of
confident flourishes on The Messenger: the bold six-string
motifs of The Right Thing
Right and Upstarts full of surly
aggressive riffs that recall the
early 80s anthemics of
Teardrop Explodes or Echo
& The Bunnymen; the mellow
strum of New Town Velocity
peppered with an REM-like
atmosphere. Trouble is, the
songs themselves are
instantly forgettable, devoid
of alluring melody or
interesting lyrical content,
and sung by a limited vanilla
voice lacking in character.

Ultimately, what The
Messenger suggests is that
Marr’s talents are best served
in collaboration, his most
accomplished and enduring
post-Smiths work being with
Bernard Sumner in Electronic
and Matt Johnson in The The.
Carrying the full weight of
a project means he also
has to carry the can for its
shortcomings.

2 stars 2 stars

Warners | NVLP 001 (CD / LP)

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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