Johnny Marr - The Messenger
Marr steps out of the shadows for solo effort
It would have been easy for Marr to completely lose himself in former glories; he could have watched the royalties flow in from his time with The Smiths but to his credit he has continually worked on projects earning him an almost god-like status amongst fans of indie music. Now that he's released 'The Messenger', his follow up to his rather drab 2003 effort where he appeared as Johnny Marr and the Healers, is he able to convert all that goodwill into something those indie fans will love.
Well, yes and no. Whilst there's plenty to love about the album, namely Marr's inventiveness with the guitar, the whole album could of benefited greatly from a writing partner or somebody to provide the vocal's that Marr's strumming deserves - it ends up being the album's biggest downfall.
On the positive side, Marr's existing fans will lap it up no-matter from what period of Marr's you're a fan of. If you buy the album because you long for more songs in the style of The Smiths then there'll be a track or two on the album to satisfy you. If on the other hand you prefer his work with The Cribs, then guess what? There's a couple of tracks that will be worth your while as-well.
Each track has enough about it to ensure that Marr doesn't end up just misfiring and creating something with very little direction. His attention to detail is mightily impressive and it's clear that you're listening to the work of someone who knows exactly what a track needs to make it work.
He revisits past styles with an affection that will please fans old and new and if you're after an album with that quintessential Johnny Marr sound, then this has it in spades.
Overall then there's nothing particularly wrong with 'The Messenger'; Marr is on fine form throughout and his guitars sound as good, if not better, than ever. If however, you're after something different, a new direction, something that pushes boundaries, then you are definitely looking in the wrong place.
Is The Messenger something that was worth leaving The Cribs for? That's something the fans will have to decide.