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Johnny Marr

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Playland 

Warner

 

Despite his more than 30 years of making music, Johnny Marr’s Playland is only the second album to bear solely his name. Perhaps it’s the stigma that comes with being a sideman – and Marr being one of the greats in that respect, from his time in The Smiths to his work with Modest Mouse and The Cribs.

A more likely case, though, is that much like Keith Richards, Marr is best when he’s focused solely on his guitar; perhaps occasionally slung a lead vocal every now and then.

When it comes squarely down to him alone, it’s more an open display of flaws than a showcase of talents. Not that there is nothing of merit on Playland – or its predecessor, The Messenger, for that matter. It’s full of gorgeous guitar sounds across a myriad of rhythms and styles, but it falls short when it’s ultimately revealed that Marr has precious little to say from a lyrical perspective – and not much of a singing voice to say it with, either.

Diehard fans of Marr and his sound will love what’s on offer here, but even long-time Smiths listeners may find this a little too lopsided and disjointed. Enter Playland at your own risk.

 

DAVID JAMES YOUNG

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