June seems to be the month of Marr on The Grey Lantern. After a review of his show at LA’s Teragram last week and Meat is Murder featuring in our Classic Album section,Johnny released his third solo album Call the Comet on June 15th. Although it does seem the love is (almost) mutual with Johnny bestowing the honor of featuring our live photo by Jordan Nicholsonon his Instagram account.
It’s been a long walk for the Ardwick lad to get from playing at the fringes, to cementing his place at center stage. But Whether it’s the appreciation of Marr consistently turning out mercurial work in his myriad projects over the years, or the fact that Morrissey’s increasingly questionable views and statements are beginning to alienate even his own doggedly loyal support, Johnny F***ing Marr as he’s often known seems to be enjoying his moment in the sun without The Smiths casting a shadow.
This latest solo offering is a concept album of sorts with Marr conjuring a utopian society that he imagined to “reset the ridiculousness of the last few years”. Recorded in his new studio on the fringes of Manchester while Al Jezeera and Fox News was beamed to its 15ft TV screens, Call the Cometis both dark and light with brooding heavy guitar, cosmic sound effects but still with classic Johnny Marr jangle.
The album opener Rise and ‘Woo Woo’ vocal hooks of The Tracers are high energy, catchy and staples of his current live set. Hi Hello is a great single that is trademark Johnny Marr but before you get too comfortable, the record drives you straight into New Dominions which in the best traditions of Unknown Pleasures could soundtrack any movie of a dystopian future, while Walk into The Sea has a vocal that is almost spoken word before rising to a harmonized sonisphere.
The album’s closing Different Gun was in the process of being written about the terror attack in Nice when his hometown of Manchester was struck by the tragic bombing of a music concert. Marr wondered if he could balance writing the tragedy of events into a rock song. That’s where the genius of this record lies. The way it rises and falls, goes from traditional to experimental and shifts from light to shade all with a gliding ease. By far the best of his solo offerings so far, we eagerly await his live return in a few months.
The US leg of Johnny Marr’s Call the Comet tour starts in September – See dates and buy tickets here.