It’s obvious what to expect when (arguably) Britain’s best lead guitarist releases a solo album – plenty of guitar riffs with the singing style shadowing behind. Johnny Marr’s first solo album The Messenger, released in 2013, presented no other than this. Plain indie rock tracks with no particular deviation – yet so brilliant and refreshing as no other artist/band would stick to the passion of the guitar without the fancy rhythms. Playland, Marr’s second solo album brings no variation to The Messenger, he hasn’t experimented and continues to use the same format as his debut album. For first time listeners of both albums, it would be impossible to differentiate the two.
It sounds incredibly repetitive but for Marr fans, they expect and won’t want any more than what they’re given. The fifty-year-old rocker doesn’t set out to be distinctive; he’s a crowd pleaser and will always excel standing in front of a crowd with a guitar glued to his hand.
The brain behind the 80s gift, The Smiths, has purposely constructed Playland to be an album much more light-hearted than the previous bands intense tracks. The album has a narrative that simply comments on how people live in a city – overwhelmed in sex, being hungover, technology, boredom and money. However he doesn’t criticize – “observation without moaning about it”.
‘Easy money’ is the only song that is obviously dissimilar to the rest – the deep-sounding recurring guitar jams are partnered with a dance background that seeps excitement and accomplishment. The opening bars shout out time-worn punk rock that surprisingly oozes sex appeal. It hooks the listener in to the story he has to tell people – lampooning money and greed.
If there is one guy that could sprint out of The Smiths, Modest Mouse and The Cribs after huge successes and breath more old-rock characteristic tracks, Johnny Fucking Marr certainly can. Well, he has.