The '80s are memorable for many wonderful things, like Pac-Man and Bill & Ted, but perhaps most importantly it was the decade in which a seismic shift occurred in the British alternative music scene that many new bands still consider massively influential today. Enter Johnny Marr, former Smiths guitarist and NME's Godlike Genius, who was an essential player in the '80s alternative music scene that's still having an impact even now.
The '80s left, the world moved on, Simon Cowell began infiltrating the music industry, and Marr flitted through a number of bands leaving his indelible mark on each one until he finally decided to fly solo.
The Messenger is the resulting album of this solo jaunt, with the sound of a musician free from deliberation and compromise, for the first time Marr has made an album comprised purely of his own tracks with no need to consult other band members.
Marr's '60s girl group influences, often referenced in Smiths literature, comes to the fore at points during “The Right Thing Right,” which by all accounts is Radio 1's dream featuring a catchy, punchy chorus with a pure pop repetitive refrain of “On the right thing right/We got a right thing.”
For a man who carries the weight of admiration and the numerous awards that come with his legendary status in the music industry this album is free from the pomp and arrogance that you suspect—had he decided to do so, Marr could so easily get away with.
“Say Demesne” is a particular highlight, offering an effortlessly cool sounding vocal that Alex Turner would be jealous of. Songs about teenage prostitution rarely sound quite as interesting and uniquely non-dramatic as this one.
The Messenger is not The Smiths, The Cribs, or Modest Mouse; each track is unmistakably Johnny Marr's own. Seeming to unfold, there is no intent eagerness to please on any of the songs. This is undoubtedly the sound of a musician who knows what he's doing and couldn't care less about what's expected of him. At no point do the songs falter or sound repetitive, The Messenger offers a glimpse into the musical mind of Johnny Marr, and gives the distinct impression that there's a lot more to come. He may already have been officially crowned Godlike Genius, but it seems Johnny Marr will continue to remind us of exactly why he was so deserving of that title.
8.0 / 10
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