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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 February 2014
Marr has a definite sound: there are chord progressions, chiming sounds, that whole rhythm-as-lead thing, that are unmistakably him. And they're all there, on The Messenger. But there's a lot more besides. The diversity of his collaborations over the last twenty five years (yes, it really has been that long, Smiths fans) has left its mark, so much so that it's tempting to play "spot the era" with each of The Messenger's twelve tracks. You know, that sounds like Electronic, that's a bit Cribs-y, that could have been on Strangeways... It's tempting, and it's dangerous, because yes, whilst I'd love to know what Morrissey would have sung over the top of The Right Thing Right and, especially, Say Demesne, that is to detract from the lyrics that Marr has penned, and delivers in a pleasantly surprising, strong voice. Whereas so many of the Mozfather's lyrics were introspective, Marr has a broader, outward-looking perspective. In tone and content, this alone should be enough to prevent comparisons between Smiths tracks and those on this new album. So I'll just limit myself to one more, because New Town Velocity is blessed with quintessential Marr chord progressions and shimmering guitar, so much so that I cannot listen to it without imagining Steven Patrick crooning over the top... especially in the last 35 seconds, when the backing vocals are crying out to be sung by Kirsty...
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on 7 July 2013
Sounds all right but Johnny still can't touch The Smiths, talk about millstones, albatrosses, etc. Electronic were all right, I've never really heard the Healers or any of the other bands he played in, apart from The The and B. Bragg, both of which were great by anyone else's standards, but not Smith's great. It must have been the chemistry cos Morrissey's never been close either. A Beatles type thing. Plus which his lyrics are mighty odd, either v. obscure or pure nonsense. Solo wise I think his Todd Margaret stuff is his best, and he never should've lent N. Gallagher a guitar.
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on 9 February 2014
An admirable chap, by all accounts, and a truly brilliant guitarist, even after however many years it is. Some people have the ego, the front and the peculiar talent to front a band, to sing the songs, guide the ship and take the praise / blame / responsibility (and obviously that group of people includes morrissey) Johnny Marr has never been that sort of person, he's always looked to bury himself in a collective, to be the supreme group player. That's fine but it does mean that the songs lack that certain something. Nothing jumps out and grabs you. The arrangements, the playing are great, it's an album I enjoyed, but it's not as good as the man. Time passes, the music plays and when it's over there isn't a huge amount to remember.
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on 29 August 2013
I've loved Marr since the Smiths. Always moving and trying to create - hes an underated composer. I saw him with the healers years ago and was a little disappointed to be honest. I also wasn't overly keen on the healers album. This is great though, where the healers seemed a little like britpop by numbers this sees Marr take inspiration from his post punk/new wave roots and create a modern take on it. Personal favourites are New Town velocity and Generate, Generate, Generate - also love Lockdown. A great album to drive to. Down wait so long for the next solo album Johnny!!If you haven't seen him live on this tour do yourself a favour and catch him.
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on 31 May 2013
Best thing I have heard in years...along with Lost Sirens by New Order.
I am not going to even mention the "S" word as this is Johnny Marr and it's fabulous. Start by listening to New Town Velocity and then let the rest of the tracks grow on you. The track the Messenger is wonderful and throughout the guitar work and riffs are outstanding. Also I love his voice, it's great and lyrics are good. It's a great album and a true testiment to his creativity. I am going to see him play...am very excited.
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on 6 July 2015
Exceptional album. Like all slow burners, this album will be on your playlist for ages. Not a single duff track. Johnny still has it in spades.
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on 18 July 2017
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on 11 July 2013
A surprisingly summery album. First listen, it seems an album you want to like but nothing special. But after after that, you realise it really is great album - it's strength is it's upbeat and uplifting sound. Perfect for summer. Zooms along like a car with the top down. The guitar is great too; will have you playing along in your mind.
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on 24 March 2013
I bought this album after hearing " Upstarts ", which at the moment is my favourite track. " Lockdown " is another great song, the rest are all growing on me by the day. Apart from " Generate ! Generate ! ", which isn't doing it for me as yet, but there's time. Went to see him and his band play live at The Leadmill in Sheffield last Monday 18th March. He was very good. It was noticeable though that the crowd got the most excited when they played " Big Mouth Strikes Again ". Me included, as I'm currently trying to play it on the guitar ( unsuccessfully, due to a particularly difficult strumming pattern ). After that I enjoyed " Upstarts " the most.
I apologise for not being up to the task of writing a detailed review of this album. But, if like me you were a fan of The Smiths, and wish to see how the man who wrote all those amazing tunes is getting along these days I'd say buy it, because he's still
making great music.
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on 28 November 2013
Having been part of Manchester's finest song writing duo, Johnny Marr's legacy is fitting, as is his recent NME Godlike Genius award. Having released `Boomslang' in 2003 under the banner of Johnny Marr and the Healers, The Messenger is seemingly his first actual solo album and in times where we are desperate for good guitar music, Johnny's done well.
The album opens up with `The Right Thing Right', which instantly gives the record an upbeat opener, and yes the man can sing. However, that "wooo!" could've had a little more velocity, Johnny...

Next is "I Want The Heartbeat" and the regular English Indie side starts to show slightly before a repeat chorus of the title. Then comes "European Me", with almost a Smiths-esque guitar intro, though the vocals don't immediately continue the immediate promise, but a pleasant chorus makes for enjoyable listening and the following verse continues that trend giving the song a boost.

The 2nd single from the album is up next with "Upstarts", and again it makes for enjoyable listening. It also makes sense that this was the follow-up single to `The Messenger', which follows the next track, `Lockdown', which itself highlights Johnny's vocal and abilities and of course his renowned guitar prowess. The title track however is the best song on the album and it is clear why this was the lead single from the record. Somewhat ignorantly of me, I was unaware that Johnny could sing prior to hearing this song a couple of months or so before the release of the album, having not been aware of The Healers or his live performances. The lyrics are limited here but this song didn't need an essay as the lyrics suffice perfectly with Johnny's vocals and harmonies as well as the instrumental element of the song.

Then we have `Generate! Generate!' and `Say Demesne' with the latter being the longest track on the album at over 5 ½ minutes. There is almost a Kraftwerk-esque sound to `...Demesne', with the song picking up at around 1:40 before switching on a reserved/strong trend for the remainder. `Sun and Moon' follows, and dare I say it we hear punkish drums, though the song itself is nothing to shout about but isn't bad either. `The Crack Up' is next and it reminds me personally of solo-Ian Brown and it works, with the chorus in particular reminding me of Brown's 2009 single `Stellify'.

The penultimate track is `New Town Velocity' and it's a good lead into the finale, `Word Starts Attack'. The closing track isn't bad - this isn't a bad album! - but thinking back, I can't help but feel that `Lockdown' would've made for a perfect ending to the record.

Overall, this is a good solo album by one of Manchester's finest sons and while it doesn't tear up trees, the highlights are immensely enjoyable and while guitar music continues to suffer and a Smiths reunion peters away as the years go by, it's nice to know that records like this can come along.
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