Compare the indecent haste with which Morrissey put himself back together again and released his solo debut Viva Hate (about 6 months) with the leisurely careering (or otherwise) of Johnny Marr. Via stints and albums with The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs not to mention frequent guest appearances, it took Marr nigh on 26 years to release a solo album in his own name, and only his name, with 2003’s Boomslang, released under the name Johnny Marr + The Healers, his nearest miss.
When it arrived, The Messenger came as something as a disappointment to many. How could it have been anything else? As an album it works its way from start to finish perfectly adequately, but there’s a little sparkle missing through much of it. A lyrical sparkle, perhaps: Marr is no more Morrissey than the musicians Morrissey assembled for his solo career could recreate Marr’s intricate magic or the Joyce / Rourke rhythm section (except that is when Joyce / Rourke was Morrissey’s rhythm section, as happened on a couple of singles before it all went South and to the law courts).
Here and there, though, Marr proves himself as an all-round songwriter, most notably on New Town Velocity, which skips and jangles in a very post-Smiths style (it’s ok to be influenced by your own former self, right?), while the psychogeographic video accompanying the single makes him, surprisingly, The Smiths’ one true flâneur.