Hard to describe Morrissey's much-maligned solo debut album. Generally well-received on it's first release, "Viva Hate" has since been met with a slightly less warm response.
In it's defence, it does contain the two great singles, "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday", which easily rank alongside the best of The Smiths. Similarly, "Late Night, Maudlin Street" is a true epic, an emotionally exhausting autobiographical journey and one of the album's stronger tracks.
As if to match the album's mixed reactions, it's also very mixed stylistically. The harsh, caterwhauling guitars on "Alsation Cousin" and "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me" contrast greatly with the pleasantly soft, lilting acoustics of "Margaret On The Guillotine" and "Bengali In Platforms".
Lyrically, Morrissey is as good as ever. The much-maligned "Bengali In Platforms" may seem rather insensitive in these PC days, but is more of a naive and innocent, "common man's" observation. Certainly more so than the racist terrace-chant the criticism would almost have you believe.
To be fair, at least it gets your attention. The original album ends with the incredibly weak "Dial-A-Cliche" and the frustratingly empty "Margaret On The Guillotine". Both of which close the album with a pathetic whimper, disappointing after the strong start.
As for the extra tracks, an assortment of b-sides mostly from around '89-'91. Well, they seem a rather pointless inclusion to be perfectly honest. Generally unremarkable, there are still a couple of neat tracks there, "At Amber" and "Let The Right One Slip In" are quite effective, as is "Girl Least Likely To" and the great live version of "Disappointed".
Overall then, a rather mixed collection of tracks, and evidence of the new territory Morrissey was moving into at the time. On first listen, "Viva Hate" seems to pale in comparison to Mozza's Smiths work, but it's a grower and rewards with repeated listenings.