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Johnny Marr's first solo album 'The messenger' had some really lovely moments as well as some thrilling ones. Should we worry that Marr is following it up so quickly? Well The Smiths were known for writing briskly so maybe nothing has changed. No soundclips are available (yet) but the press release talks of energetic, post-punk songwriting complemented by characteristic guitar style and poised vocal phrasing. We'll see how his voice stands up this time but I'm hoping for some melancholy too amid the adrenalin rush. This is the aqua blue vinyl version by the way. 

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Playland by Johnny Marr
2 reviews. Add your own review.
8 people love this record. Be the 9th!
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 02 October 2014

There was a lot of good feeling towards Johnny Marr when he released his debut solo album “The Messenger” a couple of years ago. Firstly, he always seemed like a good guy who has never really traded on his past. Possibly one of the few Sleaford Mods lyrical missteps is mentioning Marr in their 'Yesterdays Heroes’ track. I see what they are saying (particularly regarding fan worship) but until recently, Marr has really not really used his past to his advantage like many others I could mention. Anyway if you are coming expecting the janglisms shown on the marvellous ‘New Town Velocity’ from ‘The Messenger’ you are generally in the wrong place.

Four songs in, ‘Candidate’ has some nicely twinkling guitar figures but otherwise this is confident and brash indie pop and generally a step forward from “The Messenger” particularly with regards to the vocals (not, of course, Marr’s strong point). The album has a better sense of everything working together as one whereas ‘The Messenger’ could at times sound like a decent album in search of a lead vocalist. Unlike Marr’s earlier effort with The Healers none of it is embarrassing and tracks like ‘Dynamo’ belt out at a fair old rate of knots with a thunderingly catchy chorus. Like a not shit U2 I suppose.

The guitar playing is pretty exemplary throughout, particularly on ‘25 Hours’ where Marr plays some lovely complex stuff atop a rattling drum pattern.This is pretty decent stuff with a bit of a post-punk bent  - something we’ve not really seen from Marr before. ‘The Trap’ is also damned catchy, lovely guitars provide a bedrock for some nice New Order styled melodies. Some of the tracks on the B side sound a little brash for their own good but things settle down nicely on ‘The Tension’ with some truly delightful guitar playing and a melodic resemblance to ‘Echo Beach’. I have to admit feared for this album but I’ve found more than enough to enjoy.   

8/10 Stewart Dennis Customer review, 24th October 2014

Johnny Marr “Playland”

Following last year’s The Messenger, Johnny Marr’s 2nd solo outing is a more confident display. Although he will always be idolised for his guitar playing rather than his vocal ability he does sound much more at ease with his singing a year on. The Trap has a hint of the New Order’s about its bass part and in fact Marr isn’t too far away from Bernard Sumner in the vocal prowess stakes these days. Meanwhile Marr has lost none of his pop sensibilities as a guitarist and songwriter, Candidate chimes along with a delicate and affecting guitar melody whilst Boys get straight has the rhythmic attack and gusto of “Sweet and tender Hooligan" from days of yore.

The highlight of the LP has to be the current single Easy Money. It bounds along with a playful sense of fun bordering on disco, with guitar melodies as crisp, catchy and delightful as anything he created in his Smiths heyday. I would argue that his former band never were miserable, but even those who subscribe to that misconception will feel nothing but exuberant joy listening to this. The founder members of one of the greatest Indie bands of all time have both had albums out this year, but Marr's is the one for me fatty.




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