I had real concerns about reviewing this album. Firstly, i’m a huge Smith’s fan so being impartial was always going to be somewhat of a test. Secondly, and more importantly, I’d seen a lot of good reviews stating that this was a “Superb return to form” and “8 out of 10”. However, most of these reviews had coincided with an exclusive interview with Mr Marr. Whenever I see a musician being interviewed in the same publication that his, or her, album is being reviewed I always wonder if an extra star is given for the privilege. I remember the Beady Eye album receiving such treatment. It’s a well-known fact that this is one of the worst debut albums of all time but incredibly some magazines gave it surprisingly high praise. Coincidence? Hmmm.
So, it was with some relief that not only were the above concerns not true but infact they could not be further from the truth. “The Messenger” is quite simply a brilliant, well written album.
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Johhny Marr has been in the public eye a lot over the past 6 weeks. Comments to the press concerning David Cameron “David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it”, and picking up a “God Like Genius Award” courtesy of the NME http://www.gigsoup.co.uk/609/music-awards/johnny-marr-awarded-nme-award. However, this album needs no publicity at all, as it simply sells itself.
It starts with such gusto you may find it hard to move on to track two. “The Right Thing Right” is straight out of the top drawer and is so “feelgood” you’ll find yourself hitting re-play the second it finishes (I did this a total of 4 times). I briefly wondered if this was the sole jem of the album. Nope! There was more.
“Upstarts” shows off Marr’s incredible guitar skills and causes another interruption in my task to get to the end of the album. It was the first track to be released from the album and has a Franz Ferdinand feel to it. The key change half way through just seems to take it to another blissful level. “Lockdown” follows and further emphasizes that Marr should have done the complete solo thing years ago.
However, the highlight of the album has to be the quirky “The Crack Up“. It’s entertaining and beautifully melodic. It slows the album down and sounds almost sultry. The chorus is catchy and there is no doubt this will be a future advertised release.
Finally, for Smiths fans there’s “New Town Velocity“. Marr’s guitar playing on this track will take you back to those early Smiths albums and just for a second it will seem like you’re back to 1986 all over again.
Whether “The Messenger” goes on to have runaway success only time will tell. For me it doesn’t matter. If you like music, clever song writing and proper guitar based music you simply have to own this album.