Album review: Johnny Marr, The Messenger (Warner Bros.)
Offhand, it's hard to think of any rock'n'roll sidekick who has successfully made the move to bona-fide frontman/star, and Johnny Marr's album exemplifies the problem.
A guitarist of genius in his various bands (from The Smiths to Modest Mouse), Marr struggles to invest these songs with compelling identity. Lacking the lyrical subtlety to convey his Big Ideas (identity and statehood, sensation versus contemplation, etc) persuasively, he's further hobbled by a lack of vocal character, which leaves one clutching at riffs. Some of the riffs are winners, but it's just not enough to carry the album.
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