Johnny Marr’s new record represents everything that is great about the man who owns the most unique guitar sound there is.
Considering it took so long to hear his first solo record, the fact that this is the second in less than two years would suggest he’s enjoying this stage of his career.
These songs will please those who enjoyed his previous work in the Smiths, Electronic and The The.
While Morrissey’s latest album disappointed after they hype and excitement that accompanied its release, Marr appears rejuvenated after working with younger artists throughout the last 10 years.
Morrissey seems tired and cranky, but Marr comes across as energetic and optimistic. Even though it’s unfair to make comparisons based purely on their music, Marr’s is certainly the more creative and yielding path at this moment in time.
The single Easy Money is catchy and doffs a cap to Chic and, in particular, the recurring guitar stabs of Nile Rodgers.
The lyrics bemoan the preoccupation with cash by the music industry and suggest that Marr’s low profile and disillusionment with all that is defining his new purposeful sound.
Back In The Box is a stomping, driving rocker that is quite different and certainly more aggressive than anything he did with the Smiths. Dynamo and The Trap recall Marr’s journey into electronica and dance alongside New Order’s Bernard Sumner.
Candidate (not a cover of the Joy Division classic) combines a Gimme Shelter-esque riff with echoed acoustics and synths.
Marr’s distinct and straight delivered vocals have improved since 2013’s ‘The Messenger’ but they are not what the album is about. It’s the endless conveyor belt of interesting riffs that stand out.
The title track is the pick of the bunch and derives influence from the Ramones and Edwyn Collins, while This Tension reassures us that Marr’s forays away from his sound are going to be less far reaching.
Most remarkably of all though is that this record sees Marr recreate himself in a similiar manner to Paul Weller, who spent so long trying to runaway from the legacy of The Jam.
Like Weller, Marr has finally reimagined himself in the image of how he once was. Going back to the basics has seen him rediscover his talent. It’s been a long time coming, but now that we’ve had two Marr records, he’s left us wanting a third.