With appropriate fanfare Morrissey has released his first recording in five years. Following 2008’s ‘Years of Refusal’, with his latest dose of sardonic wit and despair. ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’ was produced by Joe Chiccarelli in France. Morrissey is backed up by Boz Boorer on Guitar and the addition of Gustavo Mazur on Keyboards. Moz weighs in with an engagingly sour record. Besides The Smiths output Morrissey has amassed ten previous solo efforts, and enough ink about his antics and misanthropic rants to flood a small village. Maybe it is time to ask if you can love Morrissey’s music, and be lukewarm at best about the man. More pragmatic Morrissey fans can find it a schizophrenic experience to enjoy The Smiths records and early solo efforts yet be a bit turned off by the more recent solo efforts and off recording shenanigans. As a listener you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, after all he is half of the creative genius behind Alternative music’s equivalent to “Stairway to Heaven”, the epic “How Soon is Now.”
There are many critics who have written off Morrissey as having long ago turning his back on being just another misunderstood singer and becoming instead a snarky media darling, with an abrasive quip ever at the ready. All that being said you can’t just dismiss him. With a pithy lyric or two he draws you right back into admiration and a knowing wink that he may have a point. On this release, the quality of the music backing him up is so good you could ignore the lyrics and just appreciate the tunes. There is revitalization in the backing band utilizing flamingo guitar, mariachi horns, meditative organ drones and yes even didgeridoos. The recording is significantly better than his last effort. There are two editions of the release with an addition six songs on the deluxe version. It is a length recording and covers a lot of styles and topics.
“World Peace is None of Your Business” – The disc opens with a tribal pow wow drum and didgeridoo and then breaks into the main song. An acerbic anti government ditty, the takeaway is that Morrissey is probably not a big fan of the EU. Ironic lyrics like “Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes, never ask what for.” This is Classic Morrissey throwing his “Ate” apples as only he can. I liked the song but found it a bit off putting to hear Morrissey weigh in on the state of world peace and how we should not vote because we are giving in to the powers that be. Really, this is a bit rich coming from a guy who can’t make peace with his Smith’s band mates thirty years after the fact, just saying.
“Neil Cassidy Drops Dead” – Song is a great back handed complement to the beat poets. The beat poets meet the Gashlycrumb Tinies with Moz singing about “Everyone has babies, babies full of rabies, rabies full of scabies, scarlet has a fever, etc.” “Victim or adventurer which of the two are you?” Tension between the adventurers represented by Cassidy and Ginsburg the observer (Victim?) I love the use of flamingo guitar in the song, it adds a richness to the tune that could have taken a bad turn to tastelessness.
“I’m Not a Man” – Longest song on the disc. Here Morrissey is setting up straw men to annihilate. As if anyone would mistake Morrissey for the Neanderthals he sets up in the song. The portrayals are bit over the top, but he has earned his allowances. By the end of the song I wanted to tell Morrissey that it takes all kinds to make the world go round. A world full of Mozs would be entertaining but would probably end badly. Given all that, I can see this song totally being a barnburner in concert. No one but Morrissey could get away with this song. The rhythm section on this song is noteworthy. Take note at the end to the abattoir from “Meat is Murder” making its return.
“Istanbul” – Absolutely love the guitar in this song. An atmospherically shimmery song that gets better with each listen.
“Earth Is the Loneliest Plant” – Yes the flamingo guitar is back. An earthy song about Earth. The lyrics talking about how hard is to avoid not be dinged up a as a human on this planet. “Fail as a woman and lose as a man”. The song is another highlight of the disc.
“Staircase at the University” – Unrealistic expectations and pressures of academia. Girl loses all sense of proportion over her grades and chooses suicide. “If you don’t get three A’s her sweet daddy says, your no child of mine. You’re dead to me.” Even her boyfriend weighs in with the much the same message. Poor girl, it is all a foregone conclusion, great uplifting song, not. Again, no other performer could get away with this level of audacity. Song comes from the same wheelhouse as “Girlfriend in a Coma”, Pop song tragedy. “The Bullfighter Dies”- Great intro turning the Ole cheers around. We cheer the bull not the bullfighter. “We all want the bull to survive.”
“Kiss Me A Lot” – I could be wrong but I think the song is about Morrissey wanting to be kissed a lot and anywhere, but it was a little unclear. Just kidding, actually I am getting a bit snarky; Moz must be rubbing off on me! A good song, another I see being amazing in concert. The song brings to mind “William it was Really Nothing”. The touch of mariachi band horns is a nice addition.
“Smiler With Knife” – This song has the tension of the fact that we all face our death and it is never pleasant. Add that to the images of meeting up with the wrong person in a dark alley. Be it a natural death or by violence no one desires the end. Amazingly dark song, played exceptionally well. This song brings to the forefront the amazing abilities of the back up band. One of the best songs on the disc.
‘Kick the Bride Down the Aisle” – After a careful listen I am led to believe Moz does not like the bride in question. “She just wants a slave to break his backing in pursuit of a living wage, so that she can laze and graze for the rest of her days.” Catchy anti-marriage ditty as only Morrissey can write them. The song takes all of Morrissey’s misanthropy with misogynistic tendencies and putting them in one song. This is truly a bitter song for any guy who married a girl with only oatmeal north of the eyebrows.
“Mountjoy” – Atmospheric piece conveying all the dark cells and squalor of the prison in the title. “I was sent here by a three foot half wit with a wig”. Awesome, this is the Morrissey I know and love. “Oboe Concerto” – The last song on the standard release – “There’s a song I can’t stand and it’s stuck in my head.” “The older generation have tried, sighed and died which pushes me to their place in the queue, and the rhythm of life goes round.” An introspective moving song and a great finale.
On the deluxe version there are an additional six songs. They are standard Moz material, but “Art Hounds” stands out as a snarky commentary on the elitists of the world.
Oh to live in the world of Morrissey, where everything is black and white and he is always in the right. He can be exasperatingly irritating and annoy the heck out of you, but within the snark is the kernel of truth. He deserves credit for the accurate observation and thought provoking lyrics. This disc is the best case for allowing Morrissey to continue his existence as a recording artist. It is a deeply sour recording, but no one said Morrissey was ever sweetness and light. His brilliance both in the past and now buys him credibility even when he is going over the top. The disc is a solid 8.0 and a welcome entry into his discography.