"America" is typical Morrissey vitriol, a big, contentious opener that slams you in the jaw with a critical knuckleduster lyric. It's strange though that somebody now resident in LA should take a swipe at a country "where a president is never black, female or gay". Even odder, for this normally purist rocker, is the suggestion of a breakbeat (think George Michael rather than George Clinton) and almost--gasp--funky guitars. Elsewhere, bass and drums are pushed upfront in that swaggering Moz style, although "I Have Forgiven Jesus" is welcomingly reflective and nostalgic. "The World is Full of Crashing Bores" is another highlight and a caustic comment on the curse of Pop Idol culture, but the best track here, "You Know I Couldn't Last", is what the people really want. Both melancholy and euphoric in equal measure, it's a fine reminder of why hit-and-miss Morrissey is still so revered. Welcome back misery guts; all is forgiven. --Paul Tierney
You Are The Quarry marks his first new album since 1997's Maladjusted, often lumped alongside 1995's Southpaw Grammar as the moment the milk curdled. Not so. Morrissey, like Madonna (both star attractions in a municipal zoo, alternately praised then pelted with loose change), has never veered far from a core manifesto. In his case, I hurt: therefore I am. Only the musicians, arrangements or locations have changed (he famously fled Manchester for Los Angeles).
Petulant, maudlin, terrifically dour, this latest collection could just as well have tumbled from the diary of a Prozac-addled teen, albeit in the suit of a 45 year-old man from Davyhulme.
Dispelling accusations of cultural treachery and nationalism, he fires a two-fingered salute to the US and the UK with "America Is Not The World" and "Irish Blood, English Heart". 'I'm dreaming of a time when / To be English is not to be baneful / To be standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or partial' states Morrissey, referring to his notorious cavorting with the Union Jack in 1992.
"I'm Not Sorry", purposely pricks the fruit of sexual ambiguity; 'The woman of my dreams / She never came along / The woman of my dreams / There never was one'.
Thankfully Morrissey's blunt, Northern vowels also remain intact, witness "First Of The Gang To Die". A track that drips romanticised disaffection, the very reason we first clutched his quiff to our hearts.
A gentleman's misanthrope, "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" marries a camp sensibility with a swipe at Pop Idol identi-clones; 'Thicker than pig shit' apparently. He sums up his birthright and back catalogue within "Come Back To Camden" ('Under slate grey Victorian sky / Here you will find / Despair and I'). It's an identity that he recognises is irreversibly commoditised; 'There's a cash register ringing / It weighs so heavy on my back...The critics who / Can't break you / They somehow help to make you' ("You Know I Couldn't Last").
Ultimately, this would represent a return to form had he ever fallen, but an overdue amnesty is more likely the reason for the warmth of response thus far. In a lyrical coincidence reminiscent of Craig David's cocksure prattle, the last word belongs, as always, to Morrissey himself: 'Monday - humiliation, Tuesday - suffocation, Wednesday - condescension, Thursday - is pathetic...' ("I Have Forgiven Jesus"). Welcome home our kid. Now go to your room and stay there! --Bren O'Callaghan
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Now, after a break of seven-years, Morrissey has finally returned with possibly the greatest album of his career... eschewing the sound of the past for something slightly more contemporary, invigorated and direct. The record-sleeve is a clear reflection of this new, up-front mentality, acting as the most candid statement that Morrissey has ever put across... posed with his Thompson machine gun, decked out in a sharper-than-sharp suit, and with a quizzical grin on his face, it is clear that Morrissey is quite literally on the 'attack' and is gunning for the quarry without humility or remorse. This no-holds-barred approach is apparent in both the sound and the lyrical concerns also, with it becoming fairly obvious to even the most myopic of listeners that Morrissey's time spent away from the public eye was not a period of readjustment - nor was it spent on reflection and forgiveness - with You Are the Quarry offering us a more confrontational singer, who croons spiteful vitriol like never before... as those familiar with first single Irish Blood-English Heart will no doubt attest.
The rougher, 21st century sound is unarguably the work of producer and mixer Jerry Finn (he of Greenday, Blink 182 and Sum 41 shame) who incorporates a few digital samples and 'swishy' effects in order to enliven Morrissey musings, though, that said, the melodies created by the star and his ever-faithful backing band (Alain Whyte, Bozz Boorer and Gary Day, who have been co-writing and performing with Morrissey since Your Arsenal) are truly stupendous, with at least six of the songs here going beyond the melodious excellence set in stone by the Smiths' own classic The Queen is Dead. Opening track America is not the World sets up a political theme that runs throughout many of the subsequent numbers, whilst also acting as the flipside to Irish Blood... by detailing Morrissey's apathy for the country he now calls home, for reasons that allude to the current problems in the middle-east. Though it is a song of real emotional honesty, it most certainly does not represent Morrissey's skill as a communicator of feelings and ideas as well as some of the other songs found on the album... such as I Have Forgiven Jesus ("...for all this desire he placed in me, when there's nothing I can do with this desire") and All the Lazy Dykes ("at last... your life begins").
Though politics (both governmental and emotional) are central to the record, giving this a definite Kevin Rowland theme, You Are the Quarry is also a brilliant example of Morrissey's wry juxtaposing of cultural ideals... as it manages to reflect on both his move to America and the changes in the social (or anti-social) climate, whilst also acting as a nostalgic peen to the country that made him the man he is today (as lyrics like "drinking tea with the taste of the Thames, sullenly on a chair on the pavement" from Come Back to Camden or "I've been dreaming of a time when to be English is not to be baneful, to be standing by the flag not feeling shameful" from the aforementioned Irish Blood... clearly demonstrate). It's also an album that gives us enough of that trademark lonely romanticism that Morrissey is so adored for, as illustrated on that transcendent, heavenly wonderment The World is Full of Crashing Bores, in which Morrissey manages to attack both mindless technocrats and spineless pop stars whilst also delivering that beautiful, classical Morrissey chorus "the world is full of crashing bores, and I must be one, 'coz no one ever turns to me to say, take me in your arms and love me".
This is a song that is up there with Alsatian Cousin, Everyday is Like Sunday and The More You Ignore Me... - as far as classic Morrissey solo goes - and I really hope that Sanctuary release it as the next single... if not, then it should definitely be The First of the Gang to Die; a typical example of Morrissey guitar pop if ever there was, with a tremendous sing-along-chorus and the kind of subject matter that has been prevalent in his past output, with songs like Last of the Famous International Playboys and Now My Heart is Full. Though some of the tracks, such as I'm not Sorry and Let Me Kiss You aren't quite as well rounded as some of the ones previously noted, the record does end with You Know I Couldn't Last... which along with Crashing Bores, I Have Forgiven Jesus, and Last of the Gang exemplifies Morrissey's new-found creative freedom and a return to the kind of sniping, heartbreaking pop-rock that he has always done so much better than anyone else. ...and he stole all hearts away.
Strong melody, lyrical wit, genuine controversy, drama, relevance, excellent production, but most of all: GREAT SONGS, SUPERBLY SUNG & PLAYED - NO FILLERS. His Master's Voice? Too right! In a word: BRILLIANT!!!
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