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Johnny Marr - Playland (Album Review)

Tuesday, 07 October 2014 Written by Gavin Rees

It might seem churlish to criticise one of the most influential guitarists of a generation for top-loading an album with six string delights, but it's hard not to come to that conclusion with 'Playland', the second solo record by Johnny Marr.

Here his playing is inventive, impeccable and indelibly his, but only occasionally do the songs match up to those exacting standards.

Marr wrote the book on modern indie fretwork and continues to deliver new chapters with quiet authority. For those out there who worship at the guitarist’s altar, then the opening moments of Back In The Box will thrill, just as the subtleties of his work beneath Easy Money's Britpop bounce will.

But, only the latter of the two follows up on that groundwork, its nagging chorus one of the album's melodic highlights. Dynamo, too, is an absolute feast of a song, just as the laconic style employed on The Trap and This Tension is bewitching.

Like Back In The Box, though, there are unconvincing swerves into the middle of the road elsewhere. Marr's not a natural vocalist, even if he is capable of penning fine melodies, and he's at his best when operating slightly within himself. The title track, in particular, suffers as he pushes too far by mixing several styles of delivery into an uncomfortable mix.

Marr's genius is writ large across the guitar work on 'Playland', as it was on 'The Messenger', while his songwriting chops are also in decent touch judging by its best moments. It's good, but not a masterstroke. Now, who else have we said that about recently?

Johnny Marr Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 13 2014 - LINCOLN Engine Shed
Tue October 14 2014 - SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
Wed October 15 2014 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Fri October 17 2014 - WOLVERHAMPTON Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Sat October 18 2014 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Mon October 20 2014 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Tue October 21 2014 - CAMBRIDGE Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thu October 23 2014 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri October 24 2014 - BATH Bath Pavilion
Sat October 25 2014 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Mon October 27 2014 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Tue October 28 2014 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Wed October 29 2014 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds

Click here to compare & buy Johnny Marr Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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