Af­ter 30 years as a gun for hire, the gui­tar hero fi­nally makes a firm com­mit­ment to his solo ca­reer, with daz­zling re­sults.



At first, Johnny Marr’s move to­wards the cen­tre of the stage seemed one born of ne­ces­sity rather than de­sire. Fol­low­ing his sole al­bum fronting Johnny Marr + The Heal­ers, he re­treated back into his com­fort zone as gui­tarist for Mod­est Mouse and The Cribs. Marr had clearly ac­quired a taste for life as a singer though, launch­ing his solo ca­reer proper with 2013’ s The Mes­sen­ger and its 2014 suc­ces­sor Playland. But where those al­bums spe­cialised in taut, stage-ready in­die rock, this third solo al­bum widens his pal­ette, both in its more nu­anced mu­sic and sub­ject mat­ter. Post-Trump, Marr tried to avoid pol­i­tics creep­ing into his new songs, al­though it was per­haps in­evitable that our un­cer­tain times would have an ef­fect. Rise, Call The Comet’s propul­sive opener, is a de­fi­ant howl of warn­ing against an Or­wellian au­thor­i­tar­ian regime in the vein of Bowie’s Di­a­mond Dogs: “Now here they come/It’s the dawn of the dogs.” Later, in the Com­bat Rock-era Clash-ish Bug, he likens right-wing ide­ol­ogy to an in­sid­i­ous virus. But the fact that these are so­cio-po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ments cloaked in great grooves and melodies means that these el­e­ments of Call The Comet never come across as ha­rangu­ing buz­zkill. In fact, through­out Marr paints deftly with light and shade. Stretch­ing out into the at­mos­pheres of the six minute­long Walk Into The Sea, he draws upon his sound­track work with Hans Zimmer. Mean­while, those still pin­ing for that elu­sive Smiths re­union might be sated by the bright, em­pathic pop of Hi Hello and the shim­mer­ing sigh of closer A Dif­fer­ent Gun, which tack­les the af­ter-ef­fects of global ter­ror­ism with ten­der­ness. The lat­ter two tracks, in par­tic­u­lar, spot­light just how far he’s come as a singer too, in terms of sub­tlety and pas­sion. Af­ter 30 years as an itin­er­ant gun for hire, Call The Comet firmly un­der­lines Johnny Marr’s com­mit­ment to his solo ca­reer. ★★★★ TOM DOYLE Lis­ten To: Rise | Hi Hello | Walk Into The Sea | Bug

Through­out, Marr paints deftly with light and shade.

Johnny Marr: his star is still ris­ing with Call The Comet.

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