Johnny Marr: The Messenger

New Voodoo

Former Smiths, Modest Mouse, and Cribs guitarist Johnny Marr's solo debut has been a long time coming, but worth the wait. His voice, a breathy and world-wizened baritone, is in good form, and his playing is extraordinary. Although he's known mostly for his chiming Rickenbacker tone, Marr's real legacy is his gift for crafting dramatic and engaging riffs - a skill that's showcased throughout the album. From the soaring Britpop of "The Right Thing Right" to the moody slashing post-punk of "I Want the Heartbeat" to the jangling throb of "Lockdown," The Messenger only gets better as the second half explores darker minor key arrangements, highlighting keen storytelling and tense guitar interplay. It's a terrific effort that will leave you hungry for more. (4 out of 5 stars)