Album review: The Messenger by Johnny Marr

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THE former Smiths guitarist has taken his own sweet time to release a solo record, instead settling into the role of axe for hire to the rock cognoscenti.

Johnny Marr - The Messenger

New Voodoo Records £12.99

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Stints with workmanlike outfits Modest Mouse and The Cribs have had him going through the motions without breaking into a creative sweat. The The might have forced a bead or two from his remarkably smooth brow.

These 12 songs are all acceptable if not exceptional, but the guitar playing is exemplary throughout.

Tunes such as New Town Velocity revel in a simplicity Marr excels at, stripped back and removing the strain from a relatively unambitious vocal. Johnny does not do that overwrought front man thing, preferring the calm George Harrison role to an angst-riddled Lennon.

The title track channels Blue Oyster Cult through Madchester, and the effervescent Upstarts is a cryogenically preserved 
piece of power pop, with plenty of bounce to the ounce. This radio friendly rollocker has that terracing toe tapping, chiming guitar ring to it.

Stepping into the solo spotlight, the weight of expectation can be too much, when being simply good is not enough. Johnny Marr has a great album in him, but it is not this one.

Download this: The Messenger, The Right Thing Right