Morrissey "World Peace is None of Your Business"
Morrissey returns to form with a scalding look at modern society.
Morrissey is a special kind of curmudgeon. Instead of just yelling at the kids to get off his lawn (if he’d deign to have one) he’d also tell them of the toll their offending feet were taking on the earth they tread upon. This was the case when he was a petulant young singer with The Smiths, railing against the economic policies of the 1980s. It was the case as a cantankerous man-in-his-prime agitator, scornfully reviewing the social mores of the 1990s and early 2000s. And here he is at age fifty-five, ornery as ever, but with a biting wit and sense of melodic mayhem that makes his melodramatic rants worth a listen.
The man is in molten form on World Peace Is None of Your Business his first album in five years. Apparently there’s been plenty to be steamed about and now Vesuvius erupts. Opening the album is the title track, a scathing recrimination of not just greedy corporate interests and their side-kicks, the governments of the world, but also those “poor little fools” who partake in their games - “Each time you vote/you support the process.” The message is delivered on the wings of a lovely melody that features tinkling bells - such is the contrary nature of the beast. Once you survived that assault prepare for “Neal Cassady Drops Dead” which features a litany of health afflictions ranging from “babies full of rabies/rabies full of scabies…” and so on.
Oh but we’ve just begun, the worst is yet to come! “I’m Not a Man” serves as the center piece of the album, a caustic examination of masculinity. Using the most egregious stereotypes - wife-beater, warring caveman, wise-ass workaholic, Morrissey eschews these traits, reaching beyond them for a better option. “Istanbul” takes a more compassionate direction, focusing on the emotional impact of a father forced to identify the body of his son. It’s a rare reprieve in a twelve song cycle that obliterates “civilization” and those who perpetrate it. “Staircase at the University” deals with suicide brought on by unrealistic expectations. “The Bullfighter Dies” turns the flag on the eventual outcome of most bullfights, and after all, it’s what we all secretly wish for, right? “Smiler With a Knife,” “Kick the Bride Down the Aisle”--- do you really need me to elaborate? There is a love song “Kiss Me a Lot” that seems to be joyful. All of these songs are contagiously melodic with wonderful arrangements that feature horns, Spanish guitar, and high energy performances from an outstanding band. Anchoring it all is Morrissey’s distinctive vocals, strong as ever.
No matter how dire he can get, you have to admit there is truth in what Morrissey writes. It’s just that he takes everything to the nth degree - immediately. His no-bars-hold on everything – “Wolf your T-Bone Steak/Wolf your cancer of the prostate”- is refreshing in a bizarre sense, and it’s a comfort to know that life and middle-age does not temper everyone. Here is your exception that proves the rule.
Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)