Johnny Marr’s solo career got off to a late start after performing with The Smiths and as a guest member of various bands like Modest Mouse and The Cribs. He made an impressive debut with The Messenger in 2013, and continues that success with the recently released Playland. Once again, Marr places socially relevant lyrics within energetic guitar and keyboards arrangements. An accomplished vocalist as well as an iconic guitar player, he’s at the top of his class when it comes to bringing elements of the 1980s into current music.
Marr adds a bit of funk to the catchy “Easy Money” while condemning the lust for riches (“that’s no way to serve”), and the satiric fable “Little King” is delivered with irresistible force and melody. “This Tension” is more cryptic, but its atmospheric arrangement is reminiscent of Marr’s best work with The Smiths. The title track opens with a few minutes of instrumental mayhem and continues with a hard-hitting song that would be well-suited to slam dancing. “The Trap” and “Dynamo” have classic new wave arrangements, while the majestic “Candidate” calls to mind U2. Over the course of two solo efforts, Johnny Marr has yet to make a mistake.