Not so charming now The Smiths has worn off and cheesy guitar riffs are the new form Johnny Marr offers up. His latest track, Somewhere, comes across as a usual hit-and-run job necessary to promote some new material – or in this instance, a best-of compilation. Even then that is rude to the state Marr finds this new piece in. Somewhere has a place in his discography and at the very least turns off from a few of the guitar music stereotypes he helped create. It is still of the Noel Gallagher variety, of modern-day cuts of The Libertines where this would be a massive hit had our brains not evolved beyond 2004. Still, Somewhere has some nice riffs and that is the low bar now set.
Marr vaults it, of course, it is the former guitarist of The Smiths after all. But even then, Somewhere is a tune which never demonstrates itself as foot-tappingly fine. Mancunian musicians do love mentioning abstract commentaries without including said commentary themselves. Such a middle-of-the-road is hard to love as an outsider to Marr. Maybe this is the standard he sets – passable guitar riffs which are twinkling and empty as an autumnal treat for the ears. It is nowhere close to a poor song but it does not exactly light the passionate fires which any good song can do. Somewhere is not a track to bother your friends with. It is as rigid as the emotions which follow through a listen of it. Scribbling away when surrounded by The Killers and Blondie on tour, it would appear Marr felt moved to write of his career so far.
An illustrious career, yes. A song to demonstrate it, on paper, sounds wonderful. In practice, it is just a twinkling and soulless grab at the life lived so far – plodding along and interjecting a few instrumental breaks where you would expect them. It is an infection of the brain, this guitar rock from legendary performers. Gallagher and Marr collaborating makes sense considering the nostalgia bait they now swim through. Perhaps it is the Marr mentality which prohibits Somewhere from becoming an interesting number. In his own words, a song only works if it is a “banger.” Somewhere is not – so where does this leave Marr? Out of luck is where, and with a compilation record on the way and no doubt set to include this piece, it is a striking showcase of lacking quality for the guitarist-turned-singer.
Never in doubt is his voice, though. Regardless of material, Marr is confident and rightly so in the strength of his own voice. No vocal manipulation here nor a sense of electronic urgency – as dependable as it is in the modern era. Should this be any surprise after the palatable and forgettable Fever Dreams? Absolutely. It is no surprise Marr is shuffling through the motions after a heyday period which offered up some of the all-time greats. Somewhere is nowhere when it comes to recalling the best of his work – though not much of his solo works are up for grabs when it comes to ranking his finest efforts – as a guitarist or otherwise.