Since he quit The Smiths in 1987, Marr has worked with an eclectic array of artists including Talking Heads, The Pretenders, Crowded House, and Chic.

He famously teamed up with Modest Mouse as lead guitarist for their We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank tour and even wrote the riff to that album’s most well-known song, “Dashboard”. More recently, he spent time playing and writing with UK critics’ darlings, The Cribs.

Unlike his work as Johnny Marr & The Healers which traded in swampy post-Oasis rock, Marr’s solo debut is a lighter, more nimble affair.

Opener, “The Right Thing Right” is a stomping Northern Soul homage, with Marr’s voice bearing a surprising resemblance to Bono while dreamy lead single, “The Messenger” showcases his angular, shifting guitar arpeggios.

“Upstarts”, written as a protest song for kids, straddles late 70s New Wave (think Blondie, The Pretenders) and Marr’s own 80s indie anthems.

In many ways, the biggest influence on The Messenger is Marr’s previous work. Having spent years trying to sound different to The Smiths, the 49 year old has finally become comfortable being himself.

Nowhere is this more clear than on the penultimate track, “New Town Velocity”, a jangly slice of nostalgia that chronicles Marr’s life as a school dropout.

The opening line, “Left home a mystery, leave school for poetry,” is the album’s definitive lyrical statement.

Marr’s greatest strength has always been his ability to conjure emotions – usually melancholy and yearning – through his subtle yet dextrous guitar playing and unsurprisingly, this is the record’s main calling card. 

Younger listeners may scream “dad rock” or criticise his limited vocal range. But for Marr’s sizable and devoted fan base, The Messenger is simply more proof of his genius.

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