Against all the odds, Morrissey’s new album is a triumph.
The former Smith’s Autobiography, published earlier this year, found him at his curmudgeonly worst, while the cancellation of a series of gigs through ill health recently suggested he may not have been in the best of states while recording World Peace…
However, any thoughts that the album may have been rushed out by a record company eager to capitalise on Autobiography’s success are dispelled inside one spin.
Lyrically, it finds Moz as controversially vituperative as ever. Kick Your Bride Down The Aisle is unlikely to win him many female fans, with its chorus of “she just wants a slave to break his back in pursuit of the living wage so she can laze and graze”, while Staircase At The University turns its ire on dads ( “if you don’t get three As, her sweet daddy said, you’re no child of mine…”). I could go on.
What Morrissey’s critics often failed to grasp, however, is that for every fan who clung to The Smiths for his lyrics, another would be entranced by the band’s marvellous, uplifting (yes, uplifting) tunes and musically World Peace… is both adventurous and as as strong as the best of his solo work.
Centrepiece I’m Not A Man finds him disassociating himself with the classic images of manliness and is the kind of outsiders’ anthem Morrissey excels at, and the intimate Smiler With Knife is a peculiarly touching ballad only he could sing. Both songs highlight his ability to transform a song from the mundane to the magnificent in the way Elvis or Bowie could.
Like this? Try these: David Bowie, The Next Day; The Smiths, Meat is Murder
By Andrew Greenhalgh