With the upcoming release of his debut solo album titled, The Messenger, Johnny Marr is finally properly stepping out of the singing-songwriting shadow of Morrissey. The journeyman guitarist of the Smiths has toured and played with a lot of different people since leaving the famous Manchester band, including fronting Johnny Marr and The Healers. But this feels like a proper introduction to what he has to offer as a single unit.
The title track was released a while back as a teaser for things to come. With its catchy, pulsating lead and hypnotic bass line you could almost be forgiven for believing it to be something from Interpol, but Marr’s voice dispels any notion of that. His skill with the guitar is well known but on “The Messenger,” Marr proves his vocal talents. It’s not a stereotypically perfect, angelic voice, but it’s good enough to make you wonder why he didn’t contribute more vocally to the Smiths. With its pleading refrain asking “Who wants to be the messenger?” mixed with wordless ‘ahhh’s’ throughout the chorus, Marr lets simplicity pervade the lyrics to the song, letting the music do the talking and leaving the listener to do the thinking. For a man used to playing to the left of the spotlight, Marr’s foray into the center looks very promising.