on 6 December 2014
While not Morrissey's greatest album, this is still an invigorating addition to the (substantial, bulging) catalogue. The fact that his music is becoming more Latin in flavour all the time, is unexpected, even surreal, but given the make-up of his band, a somewhat natural development. I don't think any fan could have imagined him singing such mournful lyrics as 'Earth is the Loneliest Planet of All' to an uptempo flamenco-drenched backing track, ten years ago, but such is life. It's certainly peculiar, and yet he kind of pulls it off. Still not one of the better tracks on the album though . . . could have been a big hit if Harvest had given a toss about the recordings. Oh well another record label dispensed with . . . how many can he get through before his unthinkable death? It's exciting on this album to hear him being really vocally ingenious again, like he was back in mideighties prime, particularly on 'I'm Not A Man'. The lyric though is a bit predictable for the Moz, as he's essentially repeating everything he's ever said (overfamiliarity also threatens with Kick The Bride Down The Aisle, which is basically a lyrical reworking of William It Was Really Nothing . . . a misogynistic but comic portrait of woman as ensnarer of the previously footloose and fancy free bachelor within the dreaded institution of marriage; if one took a Freudian position, it reflects Morrissey's fear of the vagina, viewing it as a kind of Venus flytrap from which you never can escape; this fear is sublimated through the symbol of marriage as an imprisonment of the male . . . end of lecture). Neal Cassady spotlights Morrissey's own Northern version of rapping, which is highly entertaining, and inevitably, morbid. This is in fact one of Morrissey's funniest albums, not just when he speaks of Allen Ginsberg's tears shampooing his beard, but in the strangely jovial account of student suicide in Staircase At The University, one of his best pop tunes possibly ever. His impersonation of an implacable northern father is priceless ('as far as I'm concerned you're dead'), and all too accurate. He was known in his youth as an accurate imitator of the northern way of life, and nothing's changed. Kiss Me A Lot is one of those curious lightweight pop throwaways that Morrissey has always been capable of, though his vocal seems a bit garbled here (not the only instance). One notes that his pronunciation at times is not what it was; perhaps due to his global traveller status . . . tends to curl his r's alot, you will note. Smiler With Knife is a dark beautiful ballad, fatalistic in typical Morrissey fashion, and let's be honest, homoerotic, but it's somewhat spoiled by a vocal clanger on the second 'alight' where his voice breaks, something I'm sure he wouldn't have let stand in his heyday, but perhaps he doesn't care all that much about mistakes now. Mountjoy contains his deepest and most world-weary lyric; it's a vintage sample of Morrissey's realistic world view, and his endless sympathy for the ghastly human condition (something people like to overlook). Morrissey has always empathised with those who suffer in life, because he feels he has suffered greatly himself (some might argue that is mostly self-inflicted, but I would argue otherwise). Am I the only person to sense an underlying ambivalence in The Bullfighter Dies? As if part of him can't celebrate the death of a bullfighter? Why else say 'you' rather than 'I'? It puts him at a distance from the gleeful emotions. All serious fans will also own the extra disc of material, which is not exactly stingy like some extra discs you get. There are some really great things here, stuff that on another day could have made the album. The only reprehensible moment comes with the keyboards on Forgive Someone (Mozzer never would have allowed this twenty years ago!). My personal favourites are the final two, Julie in the Weeds and Art - Hounds, the latter being a classic Morrissey anthem of the bookish and disenfranchised. (How great is it when he sings, 'In European hushed museums, will I see yer, will I see yer, will I see yer?' and in strained falsetto, 'My life is a fraud!') I love this song to death. Julie is a thing of real beauty, a poignant Morrissey croon topping in pastoral beauty the lyrically lovely Drag The River. Is it 'Forgive Someone' that contains that wonderful section about showers that don't work and behind the bleachers and the woman who opens herself to him (literally) and says 'Here's something you'll never have'? This is a seminal (in every sense) Morrissey moment . . . wonderful. So much to praise if you take the eighteen tracks as a whole offering . . . only a few minor quibbles, and the fact that these aren't generally Morrissey 's very best lyrics (we're talking about a lyrical genius here . . . alot's expected). But nevermind, nevermind. If you don't love this man, it's because he doesn't want you to love him. He would be glad of this. Those who do love him, understand him, or rather, think they do. And that's all that really matters. You're going to miss him when he's gone.
It would be wrong, and a little lazy, to say that Steven Morrissey is a bit like Marmite, because he's surely a lot more more divisive and strong-flavoured than that. Even people who consider themselves admirers, fans and possibly even friends of the Mancunian mouthpiece must wince at the controversial things he's quoted as saying from time to time, usually when speaking about animal welfare issues. Naturally, it is his unique view of the world, combative mind and razor sharp tongue which all combine to make an artist who is capable of writing some of the best lyrics of his generation and very seldom produces anything that could be labelled as uninteresting. A new Morrissey album is always an event and “World Peace Is None Of Your Business”, Moz's tenth solo album since The Smiths broke up, is one of the strongest records he has made. The material on the album was co-written by Morrissey and stalwart co-songwriter Boz Boorer, as well as half a dozen songs with guitarist Jesse Tobias, a collaborator since “Ringleader Of The Tormentors”, and a handful with piano, organ and keys player Gustavo Manzur, so this record is quite the team effort.
Pleasingly, there are quite a few excellent compositions on this album, which begins with the musically dramatic title track, a scathing assessment of world politics and the control exerted over the people by those who hold the power. The lyrics subscribe to the viewpoint recently expressed by Russell Brand; “Each time you vote/you support the process”. It's an excellent piece to listen to if you want to get angry about the disenfranchisement of the electorate by stealth, but offers no solution, just a talking point. The brash “Neal Cassady Drops Dead” features the kind of lyrics, referencing people from the sixties beat generation, which could easily have come from a Smiths album. “I'm Not A Man” challenges the stereotypes of being a 'real man' and ends up being a defiant statement of Morrissey's own uncompromising individuality, not being able to resist including an anti-meat-eating jibe. The instrumental ending seems to veer into Suede's “New Generation” at one point, although it's not clear whether that was at all intentional, as the entire song seems to have the feel of that particular band. “Istanbul” is a startlingly good composition too, lyrically hard-hitting with an excellent vocal performance. One of the stand-out tracks for me is “Staircase At The University”, a classic Morrissey composition of melodrama, failed expectations and a deliciously delivered punchline (a joke as old as time itself, but wholly brilliant as part of this song) together with a lush, upbeat soundtrack; this is a Smiths-quality piece.
Even those who aren't perhaps as fervent as Steven about animal issues can cheer along with “The Bullfighter Dies”, something most people will be able to agree with him about. Slightly more controversial is “Kick The Bride Down The Aisle” which borders on misogyny, warning the potential groom against the person who wishes to “lazy and graze” on his “living wage”. I'm not entirely convinced these sentiments reflect the society we're living in right now and it is a pity that the message of the song appears to be more than a little dated. The bonus disc on the deluxe edition has a few songs which are easily good enough to have been included on the main album, especially “Drag The River” and the fantastic “Forgive Someone”, so it's well worth paying that little extra for that little more Morrissey. Although not everything on the album is gold, it is, on the whole, an excellent, creative, highly listenable piece of work. My reservations about “Kick The Bride Down The Aisle” aside, the only serious misfire on the album is “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet”, which is musically pedestrian and lyrically veering towards self-parody; it is the least inspired track on offer here. The vast majority of “World Peace Is None Of Your Business”, however, is inspired, and is the work of an artist who has plenty left to say, whist still managing to find interesting, intelligent and witty ways to say it.
Half a dozen listens were all that was required to confirm it as an almost-work-of-genius. At first, I was a little underwhelmed -turned off even by the title track, with its Russell Brand-ish anti-statist blandishments ("each time you vote, you support the process") and the clunky, gauche artlessness of the closing lyric ("Brazil and Bahrain/Oh, Egypt, Ukraine... so many people in pain"... yuk). Must do better... thankfully, he mostly does. Great title, anyway (as ever, with Morrissey). 'Course, Moz's lyrics will always be scrutinised with a keenness that others' aren't. The man is a first and foremost versifier, not composer - he just 'directs' the music, or so the wisdom goes... and in this case it's mostly c/o Boz Boorer (with a very big nod to new multi-instrumentalist Gustavo Manzur); gone is Alain Whyte, Moz's main songwriting partner since Your Arsenal and a particular influence on the pretty basic, fairly crude 'chug-rock' sound of everything since then, the last three records especially. Musically speaking, World Peace *sounds* much more delicate, demure, and plain interesting than anything on You Are The Quarry, Ringleader of the Tormentors or Years of Refusal; all of them good Moz albums, but tunefully a little... lumpen. Whereas here we have autoharp, Spanish acoustic guitar, accordion; the record was made in Provence and carries a certain (pleasing) Continental aftertaste. The main instrument of note though is Moz's own voice; it's an absolute revelation here; seldom better in recent memory (just listen to the mannered acrobatics on the brilliantly camp 'Kiss Me A Lot'). Highlights? The anti-macho, anti-carnivorous diatribe of 'I'm Not A Man' (the only song I know to rhyme 'T-Bone steak' with 'cancer of the prostate'... and that's not the only airing of militant vegetarianism here - later, on the 'The Bullfighter Dies', guess whose side Moz is on?). Then there's the faintly unsettling 'Smiler With Knife', with its delightful acoustic closing section. A nod, too, for the acerbic 'Staircase at the University' ("If you don't get three A's/Her sweet daddy said/You're no child of mine and as far as I'm concerned you're dead") and ruminative album closer 'Oboe Concerto' ("The older generation have tried, sighed and died / Which pushes me to their place in the queue"). There really is lots to recommend WPINOYB: as ever, the critical hyperbole is predictable, but those calling it his best in 20 years are probably not far off the mark. In fact, in the time it's taken me to write this, the album has played out and the opening title track is back on and I'm begninng to warm to its previously irksome political naïveté; it is a Morrissey album after all - provocation ought to be part of the package!
on 14 July 2014
If you don't like Morrissey already, then I don't expect this record will change your mind. If you do like Morrissey already, well, that doesn't mean you'll like this record... Say what you want about Morrissey, but at least he isn't boring, and unlike some artists he has kept some variety throughout his career. This does mean that some Morrissey fans only like the first couple of albums, some don't like anything released since the 90s, and so on... Personally I like pretty much everything he's done, with the exception of the Maladjusted album, and I think Years of Refusal (the last album, from 2009) was one of his best for a long time. World Peace though certainly does stand out against the more recent Morrissey records. It reminds me a little of Kill Uncle, and perhaps even recalls some Smiths era sounds, but at the same time this certainly isn't a backwards looking album. There is a strong, bright and confident feel that I've not heard in some time. The producer has clearly done a great job, and the band have been allowed to stretch themselves beyond the more conventional sounds heard on the last few releases. I don't think anyone was expecting anything as adventurous as this. In my opinion though this really is up amongst his best work - certainly deserving a place alongside Vauxhall & I and Your Arsenal. I struggled over whether this really is a five star piece of work, but i'm certain it deserves more than four stars. Don't be fooled by the 'singles' releases over the past few months - they really don't represent the best material on the record, and don't think the deluxe edition bonus disc isn't worth bothering with either - a couple of tracks there are a little on the middling side, but others are up there with the best on the album. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
on 14 July 2014
It's such a shame that Morrissey records will always carry a stigma that alienates as strongly as it galvinates.
Never, ever, has Morrissey released such a varied, bold and skilled collection of songs.
In many ways this album is like a Best Of as it contains all that makes Moz so loved by his fans.
Wit, bile, love, hate, romance, death; all in equal measures, some of these songs stand up proudly and loudly against anything he has done, either solo or with The Smiths.
The depth of subject, the variety of the music, the arsenal of musically weaponry is simply stunning.
If I was forced to submit a critisim of this record, I would have to pass.
Stand out tracks : Oboe Concerto, Staircase Of The University and one of Morrissey's finest vocal performances, Istanbull.
The bonus tracks are stronger than you expect and with their quantity it is definitely worth purchasing this deluxe edition.
on 16 May 2016
A blinder of an album. The man had set the bar high with Years of Refusal, but this masterpiece (albeit less angry and indignant than its predecessor) is in a class of its own. If YOR is a high-Glycemic and tasty box of funsize Mars bars, this is a satisfyingly bulky three-course-meal. Perhaps even his best solo album ever; every song could be a favourite, from the exotically beguiling 'Istanbul,' to the darkly humorous 'Staircase at the University' and 'Kick the Bride.' And good luck getting 'Kiss Me a Lot' out of your head- it's a real earworm, and could have charted very highly had it been the lead single.
My only criticism is Morrissey's judgements regarding which tracks to put on the album, and which ones to shove on the Deluxe Disc 2. These little bonuses are, in many cases, better than the songs on the main disc. 'Drag the River' and 'Julie in the Weeds' are both absolutely pristine (the former being a contender for my favourite of his songs ever), while 'Scandinavia' and 'Art-hounds' resemble the anger he showed between 2006 and 2009.
A special mention for new recruit in the band, Gustavo Manzur- his composition credits are brilliant, and he's added a much-needed new element to the Morrissey genre. I'm already excited to see what he does next.
on 30 December 2015
World Peace Is None Of Your Business
At this stage of the game Morrissey must seriously be contemplating that caring, sometimes with a big stick, is unachieveable.
His unwavering belief that the world is beyond any type of repair, is what is so true about where his beliefs lie for 40+ years. The opening tune is an obvious album opener with a simple but why is nobody listening? anthem.
A lot of fans would rightly notice the sympathetic hand over the shoulder of someone in despair, amiss here, while he asks are you a victim, or lifes adventurer? during "Neal Cassady Drops Dead". Also It's funny to me how some journalists & professional reviewers come to the conclusion that this type of song is Morrissey speaking for himself...
The Dads:"you brought it all on yourself" approach of "Staircase at The University", to a head spinning student who cannot seem to please her favourite auntie. A familiar tribute like song, with ghostly sounding vocals at the latter of the chorus. Hilarious stuff.
This Album imo is possibly Morrissey's white flag wave of giving up trying to show how the world is run & how we all follow...
Police, Politicians, Murderous Bullfighters topped off with arrogant rich Royal sneerers, they all get a bit of his mind here.
No doubt he will never let cruelty to animals off, nor the Windsors. (quite rightly).
The opening of Mountjoy prison & onwards is a story only Morrissey could tell from his angle, in "Mountjoy" quite brilliant it is too with 7 out 10 real-life Mountjoy screws applauding his accuracy concerning the prison today.
You could go on for an age about this album, for its few minor flaws, he nails it completely on the whole with the band especially Boz Boorer & Gustavo Mansur painting a vibrant picture to Morrissey's songs, some holding the trademark witty sarcasm & some seemingly new attitude adjusted ballads: Begging the question; Am I banging my head against a brick wall after 35 years?
Only Morrissey can answer that one if he has contemplated it.
So in the heel of the hunt, I think World Peace... is an astounding collection, (One or maybe two single releases aside) mastered by singer & band alike & I think it's his best work bar Vauxhall & I, with this write-up coming from an obvious longtime fan of 30 yrs... A almost mythical musical figure that will leave his music & lyrical footprint for ever in the pop-rock music history books
on 17 July 2014
A very, very good album. Great music, great lyrics and Morrissey's voice has never sounded better. My favourite tracks ( so far) are: Staircase At The University (tune) Kick The Bride Down The Aisle, Istanbul, Mountjoy, The Bullfighter Dies....OK I could go on and list the all, they're all pretty darn good. If you like Morrissey then you will probably like this album, if you don't like him then...you probably won't. My only criticism is that the extra track on the deluxe version 'Art-Hounds' really should be on the album, it is a truly brilliant song. Actually I would advise everyone to buy the deluxe edition as all the extra tracks are fantastic.
One more thing - this album gets better with every listen so if you're not fond of it at first then I recommend you keep listening as it may grow on you.
on 19 July 2014
They say that good things come to those who wait, but five years after the release of the mediocre Years of Refusal, Morrissey's latest album, whilst not an entire disappointment, only really confirms to me that he is unable to reach the heights of lyrical ingenuity he once could. Flashes of his brilliance still remain here, but they are few and far between. Whilst this is a marked improvement musically over his previous two albums, his songwriting continues to decline for reasons I, frankly, cannot comprehend.
It's hard to believe that the man who wrote something as eloquent and beautifully articulate as Autobiography just last year, is the same man who came up with such embarrassingly amateurish lines like "Each time you vote you support the process / Brazil and Bahrain / Oh, Egypt, Ukraine / So many people in pain", "March, April, May / She crammed night and day" and "Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot / Kiss me all over my face / Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot / Kiss me all over the place". Really, Steven? Such lacklustre songwriting is astounding, given the high standards he set in his early career.
Not only are the lyrics largely uninspired, but he seems to plumb new depths of laziness with the frequent repetition of such lyrics. Now, this is something Morrissey has always done, going way back to his Smiths days. So I wouldn't normally mind - in the past this may have had a valid purpose as giving emphasis; this time round it comes across as a blatant lack of imagination, forcing the words around the melody, any way, any how.
But it's not all bad. There are some stand-out moments, moreso if you purchase the Deluxe version (which you absolutely should). I'm Not A Man is a highlight, albeit let down by the final 4 lines, in which Morrissey casts aside any subtlety and clumsily proclaims "I'd never kill or eat an animal / And I never would destroy this planet I'm on".
Istanbul is Morrissey close to his absolute peak, and somewhat softens the blow of the following four tracks which left me unimpressed. One of them being Staircase at the University - a cliched, unimaginative take on exam pressure, which is only saved by the brilliant flamenco solo at the end.
Mountjoy, though, is classic Morrissey, its lyrical brilliance almost out of place here, and the aforementioned Deluxe issue of the album ensures a strong finish with six tracks that are actually all rather good. The thumping Scandinavia, the wonderfully artistic Drag The River and the bilious Art-Hounds - tactfully placed at the end of the album as people like me prepare to flock to the internet with our "expert" reviews - are easily good enough to replace the three weakest tracks on the main album.
And this is why I struggled to decide between giving a 3 star or a 4 star review. I want you to buy it - there are definite high points here that will please lifelong Morrissey fans, and it's clearly his best album since You Are The Quarry. But the barrel-scraping low points are far too prominent for me to compare this to the likes of Viva Hate and Vauxhall And I in a hurry.
on 14 July 2014
An unexpected change of direction for Morrissey in regards to music. If you need comparisons it sounds like a blend of Kill Uncle and Southpaw Grammar. From the former we get some light melodies and strange arrangements and from the latter an accent on musical search in unexpected territories. The guitars are pushed back on this album, latino rhymes and accordion are in the spotlight. On the first listen is sounds as strange as it looks. However, the more you listen the better it gets. The same happened to me with Vauxhall And I which once sounded to me like a one long boring song but now it's by far my favorite Morrissey album. Just like Vauxhall World Peace builds its quality on nuances and light touches not forgetting about the overall atmosphere which thanks to the producer is kept on for the whole record.
The lyrics here may not be as profound as on Vauxhall or even Quarry but still will bring tears to your eyes on songs like Mountjoy and I'm Not A Man and will make you laugh on songs like Neil Cassady Drops Dead and Staircase At The University (his best mockery since Girlfriend In A Coma).
The thing that must be mentioned is THE voice. Morrissey has never sounded so confident and beautiful at the same time, his crooning on songs like One Of Our Own, Oboe Concerto, Drag The River, Mountjoy would rival young Scott Walker at times, its so deep and touching.
I would definitely recommend to go for the Deluxe Edition as the bonus tracks here are outstanding and as good as the album itself. Art-Hounds, for example,is a revelation, the energy and the humour on this song are of The Smiths caliber.
To sum it up, I would say this is an album definitely worth buying even for non-fans because it sounds refreshing and different and my advice for the fans: give it a few listens before making a verdict, this record has a long-lasting aftertaste of the classics.