Johnny Marr doesn’t need to make records.
The former Smiths and Electronic lynchpin has barely put a foot wrong since This Charming Man in 1983 and it seems inconceivable that he needs the money.
So why do we have Playland, the guitarist’s second solo album is as many years?
The only reason can be is that going solo at last – last year’s The Messenger was his first under his own name – has given him a renewed vigour for making music unseen since those golden 80s days when Smiths fans were treated to an LP a year plus non-album singles.
And if Playland is anything to go by, long may it continue. It’s superior in almost every respect to The (excellent) Messenger, serving to remind listeners why Marr’s reputation as the guitarist of his generation is well deserved.
He’s not a bad singer either, and although it’s possible to imagine Morrissey or Bernard Sumner adding their vocals to the tracks here, not once do you wish that were the case.
Musically, Playland encompasses many of the genres Marr has dabbled in over his 30-plus year career and then some.
Single Easy Money and This Tension are recognisably rock but with one foot firmly in the dance camp, the latter especially sounding like a more guitarry New Order or Pet Shop Boys.
There’s straight on grown up rockers too in the title track and early Cure-like Boys Get Straight, but the real jewels here come when Marr, whose guitar playing spawned a million floppy fringed bands takes his progeny on at their own game and, naturally, emerges triumphant.
Dynamo, The Trap and Reach out Speak Out are simply glorious, with melody piling upon melody to prove that the much maligned genre known as indie isn’t always a bad thing.
Like this? Try these: Boo Radleys, Giant Steps; New Order, Technique
By Andrew Greenhalgh