New album, same Morrissey
Morrissey’s 10th album, “World Peace is None of Your Business,” isn’t covering any new ground. The loneliness (perhaps at times more accurately described as mopey-ness), self-indulgence and confrontational attitude Moz is known for have long been tempered with a sensitivity and insight, forcing fans to love and hate him at the same time. His latest album covers all the same topics, but with a refreshing relevance.
Morrissey’s voice remains beautiful, strong and distinctive, but a casual listener wouldn’t be able to pick this album out of a lineup. It’s full of the distinctive synth-heavy sound of ’80s music that has backed him from the beginning, and most of the songs sound the same. But, as usual, his source material for lyrics is rich and diverse.
Several of the songs are politically motivated, in particular the title track, which leads the album. At 55, Morrissey is as anti-government as he was during the 1986 release of The Smiths’ “The Queen Is Dead.” But Moz is nothing if not cynical, so he finds anarchy and protest pointless. At the same time, he also doesn’t want people to vote. “Each time you vote you support the process,” he repeats after listing the countries he doesn’t want England (and, presumably, the United States) “tampering” with.
“I’m Not A Man” addresses society’s ideals about men and masculinity, with Morrissey proudly rejecting those values for his own. While a “real” men is expected to be a “thick skinned” “Don Juan” who wants to “wolf down” a “T-bone steak,” among other stereotypes, Morrissey believes his sensitivity places him at a higher level. “I’m not a man,” he sings. “I’m something much bigger and better than a man.” A longtime vegetarian and outspoken proponent of animal rights, Morrissey believes his love of animals and of the planet makes him more than a “man” as defined by society.
Yes, Morrissey still loves ticking people off Few more than those who eat or torture animals. “The Bullfighter Dies” is a bold celebration of the death of a bullfighter. “Nobody cries Because we all want the bull to survive,” he belts out joyfully.
Of course, Morrissey’s status as “better than a man” apparently qualifies him to judge others with a witty cruelty. It’s been 28 years since The Smiths released “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others,” and Morrissey still enjoys picking on women who don’t meet his standards. In “Kick The Bride Down the Aisle,” he warns an engaged man to get ride of his soon-to-be-wife, whom he compares to a cow. “She just wants a slave / To break his back in pursuit of a living wage / So that she can laze and graze / For the rest of her days,” he claims.
Occasionally Morrissey takes a break from judging, criticizing and vaunting himself above others to have some plain old fun, and when he does it’s a breath of fresh air. The song “Kiss Me A Lot” mostly consists of Moz begging someone to do just that. It isn’t written poetically or with a hidden agenda; its title is simple and repeated with abandon throughout the chorus. Similarly, “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet” is straightforward in its longing and feels the most like a typical Morrissey song in all its unabashed yearning.
Each song on the album tells its own story that comes alive in the listener’s head, and while the stories are all different, they somehow make a cohesive whole. The album cover, which shows Morrissey hanging out with a dog in front of a wall he’s just graffiti-ed, is the perfect embodiment of both the album and the musician: he’s bold and shameless in his expression of himself, and somehow for all his pomposity, he’s difficult not to love.
3 1/2 stars out of 5.
DOWNLOAD NOW: “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet”