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Johnny Marr Breaks Solo Ground With 'The Messenger' - Album Premiere

Guitarist of the Smiths channels Brit-pop in first independent record

Johnny Marr, 'The Messenger'
Courtesy ADA
February 18, 2013 12:00 AM ET

Johnny Marr has had quite a career with the Smiths, Modest Mouse, the Cribs, The The and more, but his solo debut has been a long time coming. On February 26th, the guitarist will release his first solo album, The Messenger; it's filled with Brit-pop melodies and reverbed post-punk jangles. "European Me" shimmers with guitars and bobs with a swaying snare beat, and "Generate! Generate!" barrels through with luminous textures and Marr's unstrained vocals. "New Town Velocity" slows things down in lush, meandering pop.

100 Greatest Guitarists: Johnny Marr

Marr also splatters sharp, aggressive riffing and neck-breakers throughout The Messenger, giving the album a varied pace and many different slices of Marr's songwriting. "I Want the Heartbeat" burns with angular, scorching guitars, while "Sun and Moon" is a good ol' garage-rocker that will loosen some screws.

"This record is a little more rooted in the New Wave shows I used to sneak in to see when I left school – not directly, but in terms of the energy, the shadow of the memory of that," Marr told Rolling Stone in November. It may have taken awhile, but it's never too late to release your first album – especially when you're as good as Johnny Marr.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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