Johnny Marr – Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 (BMG) 2

Johnny Marr – Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 (BMG)

It seems incredibly fitting that on the anniversary of his debut solo album, The Messenger, Manchester legend and guitar maestro, Johnny Marr has released his fourth solo album – Fever Dreams Pts 1-4. Released as a double album that consists of sixteen tracks, what’s been particularly exciting about the build up to release is that Johnny’s been drip feeding fans the album in the form of four EPs – an exciting concept that not only allowed us to become acquainted with the first half of the album, but left us wondering what else Johnny had in store for us.
Johnny made his welcome return last September with the albums lead single, ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ – his first new offering since stand alone singles ‘Armatopia’ and ‘The Bright Parade’ back in 2019. The anthemic track introduced us to an upbeat and euphoric vibe that’s prevalent throughout the majority of the album – including the infectiously catchy ‘Tenement Time’ and bass heavy ‘Night and Day’.
Despite not being written as EPs, each chapter of the album has at least one track with the potential to explode on the festival circuit – a lot of artists dream of having just one track of that capability in their back catalogue, so it’s nothing short of impressive to see so many in one body of work. With a quirky melody, the psychedelic ‘Counter Clock World’ for instance oozes with an energy that matches that of Johnny’s onstage – an energy that’s also prevalent in the synth ridden ‘Sensory Street’, which is particularly reminiscent of his time with Electronic.

Johnny’s far from a one trick pony and his talents don’t end with tracks of a buoyant nature. ‘The Speed Of Love’ and ‘Rubicon’ for example both deliver a more eerie, menacing vibe – notably the latter, with powerful spoken word verses and haunting backing vocals that sit alongside ominous instrumentation. The downtempo ‘All These Days’ is another track that demonstrates Johnny’s adaptability with its ethereal vocals showcasing how he’s gone from strength to strength since the launch of his solo career in 2012.
2022 marks ten years of Johnny’s time with his current band – James Doviak, Iwan Gronow and Jack Mitchell. All members play a heavy role in the albums striking instrumentation, though it’s the phenomenal bass work on ‘The Speed Of Love’ and ‘God’s Gift’ that stands out. With a relentless touring schedule, the band are one of the tightest live acts on the scene and it’s apparent that this perfectly translates to the studio. The album also features the exceptional talents of Meredith Sheldon and Simone Butler on backing vocals, with Simone also assisting Iwan on bass duties – adding an element of inclusivity that’s frequently overlooked in the industry.
Lyrically, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 is a triumph and that’s down to Johnny’s decision to stray away from releasing an album that’s predominantly based on the events of the last couple of years. Some of his most poignant lyrics to date lie in the beautifully redemptive closing track, ‘Human’. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the track sees Johnny take a more stripped back approach as he insists that “better’s got to come”.
Though renowned for his status as a guitar icon, Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 illustrates Johnny’s versatility and talents for song writing, production and vocals. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that his guitar work is any less impressive than his previous offerings and we’re continually blown away by the exhilarating guitar on ‘Hideaway Girl’ alone. Released in just the second month of the year, we’re confident that this is an album that we’ll be seeing a lot of in ‘End of Year’ lists.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.