In 1987, Johnny Marr dissolved The Smiths to the dismay of skinny, pale kids everywhere. While Morrisey went on to a fairly successful solo career, Marr worked behind the scenes, contributing his talents to artists such as Beck and Talking Heads. It’s now 2003, almost 15 years since The Smiths broke up, and we have been given Marr’s first crack at fronting a band, Boomslang (if anyone has any idea what this title means, please contact me). Being the Smiths maniac I am, I was excited to get a hold of this album and jumped at the chance to review it. I find myself disappointed to say, however, that while Boomslang isn’t a particularly bad album, it’s not a good album either.
Let’s start with a quiz: In the last five years, have you bought an album by Oasis or any other Brit-Pop band? If the answer is yes, then you have bought Boomslang. Boomslang can be summed up quickly and easily with two words: horribly generic. The album opens with “The Last Ride,” whose distorted guitar and vocal harmonies immediately clue you into how derivative this album really is. Still, the track and the track after are good enough and warrant further listening. Track three, the album’s strongest song, “Down on the Corner” hopefully signals Marr finding his own sound, somewhere in between Oasis and The Smiths. But hope quickly dissipates as the album progresses, and each succeeding track blends further and further into each other, making Boomslang one hell of a boring album. Finally, you get to the last track, “Banging On,” which is basically a reprise of the first. By the end of the album, either you have fallen asleep or are so fed up that you popped it out a few tracks ago and put in The Queen is Dead.
The album amazingly lacks everything creative and great found in Marr’s previous work. Johnny Marr became known for his simple yet brilliantly emotive guitar riffs played on a twelve string Rickenbacker. While I understand the need for an artist to evolve and move past his “trademark” sound creatively, the distorted guitar licks and solos are indulgent and uninspired. I am just left wondering if Marr sold his soul to Liam Gallagher while he was recording the album. I could recreate the scene as I imagined how it may have gone, but frankly I have better things to do.
Putting all questions of the possible sale of Johnny Marr’s soul aside, we really aren’t left with much of an album to get excited about. Marr’s debut just comes off as nothing more than a decent but boring Oasis knockoff. If you really want a better picture of what Johnny Marr can do, go out and buy yourself a Smiths album. Well, buy one of their albums anyway, but that’s beside the point. Boomslang hardly stands up as anything more than boring and uninspired. So I end with one simple plea. As a skinny, pale kid, I beg of you Marr and Morrisey, please reunite The Smiths. An entire generation of kids like me needs you. With you gone, who do we have left? Sure Belle and Sebastian are good, but they are so inconsistent. C’mon, just come back, and show them the real champion of wussy white kid rock. [After writing this, the author quickly broke into tears and went to write in his livejournal.]