Whether Johnny Marr’s first new music in four years is a double album or four discrete four-track EPs is very much up to the listener, with the first eight tracks here already released last year, and the remainder also coming out on a pair of 12-inches later in 2022. What’s clear, however, is that Marr has shifted slightly from the post-punk stylings that characterised 2018’s excellent Call the Comet. Whereas that felt very much a guitar album, it’s keyboards that take centre stage here on a set of energetic, electro-indie cuts that are as dancefloor-friendly as anything he has been involved with since Electronic. There are echoes of early-00s Primal Scream in places, too, most notably on Tenement Time.
While not explicitly about the pandemic, its effects still dictate the mood of Fever Dreams, whether in the sense of foreboding evoked by Receiver’s riff or the reflections on lockdowns’ disorienting telescoping of time on Counter-Clock World, or even just the title. All of which makes the hope provided by redemptive closer Human all the more welcome. If there’s a criticism, it’s that spread across 16 tracks there’s no ignoring the homogeneity of much of the material. Perhaps it is better listened to as a set of EPs after all.