(Planet Me)
Thursday, July 17, 2014
MORRISSEY World Peace Is None Of Your Business

I never realised you wrote such bloody awful poetry

What comes first? The song, or the singer?

We have now reached the unenviable point where the best thing about a Morrissey album is not the titular singer in the band, and where the words are cringeworthy old men tilting at clouds. After a five year absence from the recorded world – the entire lifespan of his first group The Smiths – surely he would come back with a record that could match anything else he has done ; and well, it doesn't. “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” is an OK record, but OK from a man like Morrissey is not good enough. He is not OK by himself.

It's a disappointing record, and you might be forgiven for thinking it a hastily tossed off treadmill record, not a glorious comeback after a half decade away in label limbo. v Yes, it has it's moments - “Staircase At The University” is a fabulous song that recalls the finest hours of “Viva Hate”, aided by daft horns and wonderfully intricate Vini Reillyesque flamenco geetar – is the high point of the album. But then, but then, alas, how we fall, angel angel down we go together, its followed by the longest 122 seconds on the record, punsome “The Bullfighter Dies” that merely lists towns and afflictions ; senile in Seville, barking in Barcelona, vicious in Valenica, gored in Gerona, and tedium in Torremolinos... you think I'm joking. Well, almost. With this blunt and frankly dull lyricism, I never realised you wrote such bloody awful poetry.

To hear such butchery of English next to the better songs on the album merely highlights how a song is so dependent upon Morrissey's ability to sing and cure the world. When this album works, when he soars like the perverse Opera singer he can be, “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” bludgeons “Maladjusted” and “Southpaw Grammar”, and when he offers the lines that rhyme “scabies” with “babies” and “rabies” it becomes risible, at worst a humiliating and wilful climbdown for the Mozfather from his former genius wordsmithing. To venture willingly in to the mediocre.

It's further compounded by “Art-Hounds” on the deluxe edition - Morrissey is the only rock star who is a failed journalist : and here he forgets, using the song to assault internet critics and anyone who dares attack his unassailable correctness. “Autobiography” surely had the working title of “Why I Am Always Right”, and aside from these occasional cases of aiming both lyrical barrels at his own reputation, and firing away with gusto and aplomb, huge chunks of “World Peace” are glorious. “I Am Not A Man” is simply ascendant and powerful, refuting the X & Y chromozone with unrivalled accuracy.

His wordplay – often the redeeming feature on some of the lesser songs in his past, becomes merely a list of ancient archaic Engerlish on well, to be blunt, the tedious “World Peace Is None Of Your Business” and the simply doleful “Neal Cassidy Is Dead” - to be honest the best bits are where he shuts up, and his band of blunt Sleeperblokes offer a flamenco solo interlude. The opening salvo is the sound of the hamfisted lump reactionary striking against the rest of the known universe without flair or skill : the first two songs are possibly the worst songs on the record, and put this at a distinct disadvantage it never truly recovers from.

“I'm Not A Man” has a point – a refutation of the male stereotype similar to, and reminiscent of the Manic's “Born A Girl”, a brave admission of the failures of those we are told to aspire to, though, to be honest, why not just be your own man? Define yourself and let that be the image we make. There is nothing, Morrissey wrote in his Autobiography, I have not made myself.

At this point – and after a five year gap from recorded music, surely Morrissey has something stronger than this? “Istanbul” is a fine song. But it's not the way one should announce a half-decade from recording. Is this IT? The best he has? And to follow that with such by-numbers titles as “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet” and “The Bullfighter Dies” brings some worry. But strip away the clunky words and occasionally ugly melodies, and well, parts of this record are confident, astute, and yes, accomplished. It's as if he sabotages himself and his band, often rightly rubbished for their hamfisted butchery of his more subtle material, show themselves to be capable of delicacy and tenderness, even if they don't always do so. As the record progresses, some of the material – the near parody of “Kick The Bride Down The Aisle” and “Smiler With A Knife” - show that this is just another Morrissey record, and, whilst nowhere near as underachieving and out-of-time as “Southpaw Grammar” and “Maladjusted” - it hovers near the middle of his work, neither awful nor awesome, merely quite good in places with the odd clunker and lyrical blunder.

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