Johnny Marr – Playland

Album review of Playland by Johnny Marr.

It’s hard not to like Johnny Marr. Despite his global stardom as Britain’s most influential guitarist, he always seems to have his feet on the ground and his head focused on music; you’re unlikely to catch him dropkicking paparazzi or comparing KFC to terrorist attacks, for example. After The Smiths split, one would imagine that it would’ve been easy for him to descend into a world of recreational drug taking and rock-star style attention seeking. Instead, he’s incredibly hard-working and tee-total, and after stints with bands such as Modest Mouse and The Cribs, he’s brought out his second solo album Playland.

The album begins in rapturous fashion with Back in the Box; the thunderous guitars and Mancunian accent cause thoughts to drift lazily to The Courteeners. Oh, wait; it was Marr who inspired The Courteeners, right? Therefore it’s them who sound like him in the first place. This is Manc music inception. Anyway, after a lively introduction the listener is catapulted into the ridiculously catchy, hugely enjoyable, Easy Money, which – despite Radio 6 attempts at sabotage by playing the track roughly 24 times a day – is a stellar tune and a standout on the album.

A peppy, energetic vibe runs throughout the whole record; Marr said that the album contains themes of escapism and its relationship with modern day consumerism. The hectic pace of the music and thought-provoking lyrics certainly depict a certain sense of frustration at the lack of clarity in modern day life. Thankfully, Marr has mastered the ability to blend political and societal gripes into his music without making it painstakingly obvious or causing it to detract from the quality of the music itself. The album perfectly showcases Marr’s uncanny ability at creating strong, melodic rock music. The album would, however, benefit from a bit of diversity between the tracks; but having said that, it’s Johnny Marr playing the guitar in the way which only he can, and I could listen to that all day.

7/10 Joe Food

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