In contrast to his former colleague Morrissey, Johnny Marr, musical mastermind of the legendary The Smiths, has been scurrying through the pop world quite unrecognized for the past 25 years. Numerous mostly high-class collaborations, among others his temporary participation in Modest Mouse or The The, are on the plus side. But actually "The Messenger" is his first solo album. Why the guitarist understood himself more as a sidekick than as a frontman for so long, makes sense after listening to the album: Marr is just not a singer, not a performer. And also his songwriting is obviously dependent on an ingenious lyricist and melody inventor like Morrissey. His twelve songs are too streamlined and meaningless, Marr delivers too little of his own with them. Except, of course, his ability to elicit sounds from the guitar that sound strangely ordinary and that is why they are so brilliant: He still knows how to bed a song in euphony and lull the listener into safety. But if the lyrical frontal attack of a Morrissey doesn't come then something is missing.
Top track: The Messenger