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Johnny Marr’s creative renaissance is long overdue. Its almost 30 years since he really jangled and strummed with real effect and having moved back from Portland to rainy old Manchester, getting the bus from Withenshaw to Whalley Range has obviously reinjected
some of the old spirit. This certainly sounds like a more youthful album than we have the right to expect from an almost 50 year old and it blasts along with an energy lacking from artists half his age.
If you listen to one song to get you into it try ‘European Me’ its a direct cross between The Smiths and Felt’s ‘Penelope Tree’ with its cooed female backing vocals. The guitars are...ahem....plangent. Single ‘Upstarts’ sounds super in the context of the album and the title track is excellent, the guitars just sting and the atmospherics recall Interpol or even old school Simple Minds. ‘Say Demense’ continues the bleak synthy 80’s theme while ‘Sun And Moon’ sounds kind of like late period New Order, ‘The Crack Up’ is driving me mad by reminding me of various things I just can’t place but one of them is Chic, bizarrely, but then Johnny was always down with the disco kings and queens.
Its great, but we know that Johnny is at his best doing the guitar thing and includes at least one absolute stunner ‘New Town Velocity’ is the most Smithsy thing here, the guitars are just so gorgeous I want to weep. I’m transported to a time I never knew, driving to a hilltop with a dark haired lovely, skiving off to play the tape of the latest Smiths offering while the wind buffets the car and the rain lashes down. At its worst (and there is the odd mis-step) its a solid guitar pop album but at its best the sheer intricacy of the guitars will touch those of a certain age who ache for that melancholic jangle.
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