Johnny Marr – Call the Comet (Album Review)

Johnny Marr – Call the Comet (Album Review)

The Smiths will always remain as one of the iconic bands in the Post-Punk New Wave/Indie Pop scene. This is largely due in part to the compelling music that the quartet comprising the group had churned in their heyday—songs that resonated in the hearts of millions of disenfranchised youth of the era, many of whom to this day continue to follow the respective music careers of especially Vocalist Morrissey and Guitarist Johnny Marr – the primary songwriters of the legendary English band that was formed in 1982, in Manchester, England.

Soon after The Smiths disbanded in 1987, Morrissey immediately embarked on a successful and prolific solo career. For his part, Marr had also been nonetheless productive himself, eventually collaborating with and lending his well-sought-after jangly guitar sound to a diversity of artists that included The Pretenders (“Windows of the World”), The The (“Gravitate to Me”), Electronic (“For You”), Billy Bragg (“Greetings to the New Brunette”), Talking Heads (“[Nothing But] Flowers”), Pet Shop Boys (“Home and Dry”), Oasis (“Born on a Different Cloud”), Modest Mouse (“Fire It Up”), The Cribs (“Victim of Mass Production”), and even the film scorer Hans Zimmer (Inception OST).

Regarded as a restless musical spirit, as shown by his wide array of collaborative endeavors, Marr finally began his much-awaited solo adventure, releasing in 2013 his debut full-length. The sophomore followed less than two years later. Now, Marr is really not wasting time. His third oeuvre, Call the Comet, is coming out this Friday, June 15, 2018, on New Voodoo/Warner Bros.

Finding Marr in his beloved, distinctive playing style, Call the Comet opens with the flickering melody and futuristic tinge of “Rise,” which bursts into a mind-expanding and sparse wall of guitar sound, signifying Marr’s bullet-train return with another powerhouse of an album. The driving rhythm continues on in the ensuing “The Tracers,” further engaging the listener with the iconic guitarist-singer’s meteoric energy. The mood turns a bit dark as “Hey Angel” and “Hi Hello” play next in succession, oozing with New Wave/Gothic Rock sensibilities and casting flanger shadows of pioneers of the genre such as The Mission (“Deliverance”) and The Cult (“Rain”).

Marr then trudges into a slightly different terrain with “New Dominions,” whose bass line throbs heavily and angular guitar strums slice sinisterly, reminiscent of similar Gothic Dance Pop excursions of Tones on Tails (“Twist”) and Love and Rockets (“Hot Trip to Heaven”). The mood turns rustic and folky with “Day In Day Out,” which serves as a prelude to one of the album’s highlights – “Walk into the Sea” – an undulating, Psychedelic-tinged, synth-drenched six-minute rockin’ stomper.

Another fuzzy puncher comes next in the form of “Bug,” featuring a subtle countryside flare and a mantra-like chorus that will surely afflict the listener with last-song syndrome; this will fit well on a playlist that includes “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” by The Killers and “Vampires” by Adam Ant. The swagger gets bigger, fuller, and cooler with the ensuing Post-Punk rocker “Actor Attractor,” which comes off as a sonic homage to Joy Division (“Dead Souls”).

Nearing the end of the record then spins the concert-favorite “Spiral Cities,” in which Marr’s self-assured voice explores its velvety low register, sounding off like a dead ringer of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds (“Stars Will Lead the Way”).  This is followed by the upbeat, early ’80s New Wave throwback “My Eternal,” exuding echoes of Ultravox (“One Small Day”), A Flock of Seagulls (“You Can Run”), and The Cure (“Primary”). Finally, Marr finishes off his latest pièce de résistance with the melodic, mid-tempo “A Different Gun.”

Simply put, Call the Comet is another installment to Marr’s continuing personal musical journey, something that he should have undertaken a long time ago. However, on second thoughts, Marr’s time-wrought experience and diverse collaborations were what certainly annealed his trademark and brilliance and gave him the confidence to use his singing voice, making his own solo works ripe and as potent as, if not more potent than, everything else that he ever recorded and had his magic stamp on. This is why CrypticRock gives Call the Comet 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Call the Comet:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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