Johnny Marr

The Messenger (Sire)

Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr

The Messenger (Sire)

Johnny Marr's previous solo showing was 2003's flat arena-rock experiment, Boomslang. For The Messenger, the ex-Smiths axe genius returns to the guitar pop of his youth. Marr chimes, jangles, strums, and crunches, using whatever tricks best serve the song. Not that The Messenger trucks in nostalgia, mind you. His vision turns on fuller arrangements and tighter melodies than his old band allowed. Whether it's the lush groove and 12-string jangle of the title track, the stop-start chink and twanging riff of "The Crack Up," or the widescreen pop licks powering "The Right Thing Right," Marr caresses each track with just the right touch and that includes his mellifluous voice. The Messenger rediscovers what made the Smiths' albums great – an open-minded approach to tone and a feel that colors tunes for miles. (Friday, 4:15pm, Orange stage)

***.5

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