Johnny Marr - Call The Comet album review

Intense noir rock from the Smiths songwriter with a functioning moral compass

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Johnny Marr - Call The Comet tracklisting

1. Rise
2. The Tracers
3. Hey Angel
4. Hi Hello
5. New Dominions
6. Day In Day Out
7. Walk Into The Sea
8. Bug
9. Actor Attractor
10. Spiral Cities
11. My Eternal
12. A Different Gun

While former Smiths singer Morrissey is busy horrifying his remaining, nose-holding fans with his eyebrow-raising comments, guitarist Johnny Marr rises in stature as the ex-Smith you can believe in. His third solo album might not overtly reflect the political passions of his own recent interviews – bashing homelessness, capitalism, Brexit and Trump – but musically it’s as forthright as any self-penned Moz puff piece. 

Emulating the gamut of dark- hearted alt.rock (Joy Division, The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Pixies, The Mission, even a touch of Ministry on the motorik New Dominions), his wider world view is buried beneath chunky synthrock riffs and quasi-goth atmospherics; it would take deep study to fathom, for example, that synth- bagpiped single The Tracers is about the earth being saved from religion by alien AIs. 

It’s an intense, powerful and sonically relevant hour, mind, and those old-school Smiths fans surviving the futuristic electro-rock freak-out of Hey Angel are rewarded with some classic Marr twangle on Bug, Day In Day Out and Hi Hello, which could have fallen straight off Meat Is Murder. A good chunk of this Comet is heaven-bound. 

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).