Watch Johnny Marr Cheerfully Champion Protest in ‘Upstarts’

johnny marr, upstarts, the messenger

Johnny Marr’s upcoming solo debut The Messenger (due February 26 from Sire/ADA) already feels like a roll call of guitar-pop standards. First there was the title track‘s post-punk (dis)affectations, then came the Britpoppy “The Right Thing Right,” complete with its U2-chasing chorus. And now there’s the feel-good political upheaval of official lead single “Upstarts” and its appropriately low-stakes video.

Trading in the black-and-white wasteland from the “Messenger” video for a stage-lit warehouse performance, Marr gives this defanged protest sing-along room to breathe, firing things off with a stomping guitar that clears the way for opening line, “Ooh / I feel it coming ’round / I hear it / Sounds like the good life.” In an interview with Stereogum, the ex-Smiths guitarist labeled the track “a kind of lighthearted description of leaving school and getting screwed and not knowing enough to engage in some productive political discourse but still being wise enough to throw up your middle finger and say ‘Fuck you.’” That explains the defiant but undangerous guitar swerves and rally cries of “Upstarts on their way / Upstarts now have to pay,” and “The underground is overground / The overground will pull you down.” It also might account for the Beat-inspired look Marr’s backing guitarist has going on. Fans can pre-order The Messenger through iTunes. Scroll down to see the album’s entire track list.

The Messenger track list:

1. “The Right Thing Right”
2. “I Want the Heartbeat”
3. “European Me”
4. “Upstarts”
5. “Lockdown”
6. “The Messenger”
7. “Generate! Generate!”
8. “Say Demesne”
9. “Sun & Moon”
10. “The Crack Up”
11. “New Town Velocity”
12. “Word Starts Attack”


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