Ever since The Smiths, the NME-prescribed ‘god-like genius’ Johnny Marr has earnt a reputation as the professional talent bike of the UK indie scene. Nonetheless striking out alone ‘The Messenger’ goes some way to proving his genius; delivering the jangly guitar-rock for which he is known and loved.
Not known as vocalist, his voice fits surprisingly well with some pretty nifty guitar work on songs such as ‘Upstarts’. Melodic, catchy and well-rounded; songs such as ‘Lockdown’ and ‘European Me’ are pleasing to the ear, but near the album closer there’s little to prevent you from nodding off.
The album is pretty cohesive but the main problem is Marr’s tendency to string out songs that just sound bland and baseless. The standout songs are the bad ones; the one’s that try too hard. ‘Sun and Moon’, for example seems fresh out of the arsehole of later-era Feeder, and the result is that Marr feels like a 50 year old blagging his way into the beds and ears of modern-minded Smiths fans and university students everywhere. Fans of The Smiths may find some longevity in its nostalgic sound, but for me ‘The Messenger’ was a brief journey I probably won’t be making again.