Admirers of legendary song craftsman Johnny Marr received a treat with his new EP Fever Dreams Pt 1. The EP follows up his 2018 studio album, Call the Comet and is a precursor to Marr's ambitious double album release for 2022. The four-song taster provides a peek into where Marr's mind space is at this point in his illustrious decades-long career. What's on offer is another stellar dose of trademark Marr guitar goodness moulded into electric soul anthems.
The takeaway from Fever Dreams Pt 1 is optimism in the face of long odds. The EP is an antidote to the cynicism of our age. The earlier released single, "Spirit, Power, Soul", displays an artist who has never forgotten how to write a great hook. The track is loaded with simply sublime sonics as Marr tips his hat to humankind's irrepressible endurance. He acknowledges the dark side of society while encouraging us to overcome the darkness.
The track is very much Marr's signature style providing excellent sonics as the sweetener while allowing the more profound meaning to seep in. "Receiver" starts heavier with a contrasting helium-filled vocal. Marr examines our unquestioning wiliness to take in all the faff the PR/ Marketing major media feed us. He stresses we need to question what exactly we are being sold. This is all wrapped up in the magnificence of Marr's hooky as hell guitar riffs and crisp production.
The release then explodes with "All These Days", where Marr's vocals soar. What becomes evident throughout the four tracks is gone are the days when Johnny was not as confident about his vocal skills. Marr becomes more confident about his vocals on each outing, and on this song, they are front and centre. The sonics are crystalline as he lays down some proprietary guitar riffs that would still completely fit on a Smiths release. Lyrically Marr stresses endurance and gets rhapsodical about the past while being on guard about what comes next.
The final track on this oh too short release is "Ariel". The track is best described as a breathtaking alternative ballad. Crunchy synths accompany another stunning guitar composition that could be about both star crossed lovers or sectarian/social division.
Fever Dreams Pt 1 does exactly what an EP should, leaving the listener anticipating the more extended play release promised in the new year. The cover reflects essential Marr, a man with his tools of the trade, a guitar and pedalboard proclaiming the return of this veteran virtuoso. If Fever Dreams Pt 1 is any indicator of what is to come, his fans and alternative enthusiasts are in for a treat.