World Peace Is None Of Your Business

Morrissey — World Peace Is None Of Your Business [Deluxe Ed.][July 14, 2014]

 Morrissey — World Peace Is None Of Your Business [Deluxe Ed.]
≡   Just when you think human warmth is in short supply on Morrissey's new album, the old devil can still spring a surprise.
(2CD) DELUXE EDITION + 6 Bonus Tracks : 2014 album from ex-Smiths frontman & his first in 5 years! Includes 'The Bullfighter Dies' & 'Earth Is The Loneliest Planet'.
Location: Los Angeles, Rome, Italy, Switzerland and the UK
Album release: July 14, 2014
Record Label: Harvest/Virgin EMI
Duration:     80:11
01. World Peace Is None Of Your Business      (4:32)
02. Neal Cassidy Drops Dead      (4:05)
03. I'm Not A Man      (7:49)
04. Istanbul      (4:42)
05. Earth Is The Loneliest Planet      (3:37)
06. Staircase At The University      (5:28)
07. The Bullfighter Dies      (2:04)
08. Kiss Me Alot      (4:04)
09. Smiler With Knife      (5:17)
10. Kick The Bride Down The Aisle      (5:18)
11. Mountjoy      (5:02)
12. Oboe Concerto      (4:07)
13. Scandinavia      (3:34)
14. One Of Our Own      (3:33)
15. Drag The River      (4:41)
16. Forgive Someone      (3:11)
17. Julie In The Weeds      (4:00)
18. Art Hounds      (5:07)
10ieme album solo pour Morrissey. Pour amateurs de Morrissey et de ses sempiternelles obsessions...
By ANN POWERS, July 06, 201411:03 PM ET
The rhetorical essence of punk is the decision to say what others believe should not be said. It points out the "no" lurking within or near every "yes." It demands an ongoing reckoning with true outsiders, and with what remains wrong in society despite everyone's best efforts, simply because people and the structures they make are flawed.
By this definition — more philosophical than musical — Steven Patrick Morrissey is the greatest punk rocker ever to spit in a queen's eye. Morrissey would likely be horrified that a critic would call him a punk at 55 (or at any age, really); his music with The Smiths and throughout his long solo career is so much more melodic and eclectic than what that term often invokes. Yet with his 10th solo album, World Peace is None of Your Business, he reasserts punk's impropriety as the force that makes his music inimitable.
World Peace is sweepingly powerful and effortlessly transgressive. Morrissey is in fine mature voice, belting with gusto and going gentle without strain. His touring band provides wide-ranging support in arrangements that incorporate everything from Portuguese fado to lounge-music cool to rock grandiosity. Longtime guitarist Boz Boorer is the anchor; Gustavo Manzur, on keyboards and percussion, is the utility player pushing the sound. Producer Joe Chiccarelli makes it all cohere, giving Morrissey room to emote within the wash of musical elements.
The title track of World Peace is a directly political song, an angry shout of empathy for those suffering in hot spots from Egypt to Ukraine. But it also decries the value of protest, or any kind of engagement with the system as it stands. "You poor little fool," he hectors kindly at those who would hold signs or even cast ballots. Pop protest songs usually offer uplift, dwelling in alternate realities. Punk ones like this say: No future, as things stand, for you.
This is Morrissey's way — demolition through critique. The Smiths-like "Staircase at the University" depicts the suicide of an academically overpressured student. "The Bullfighter Dies" celebrates human loss in the name of animal rights. "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle" passes (arguably too-cruel) judgment on its female subject within a critique of wedded bliss. The Burt Bacharach-like "I'm Not a Man" lists everything Moz finds execrable about masculinity, ending with a bitter cri de coeur: "I'd never destroy this planet I am on! What'ya think I am, a man?" But wait: To those who say we can transcend such roles, Morrissey offers the sweet heartache of "Earth is the Loneliest Planet," a Latin-flavored lament for someone stuck within gender dysphoria, feeling like a failure as both a woman and a man.
His character sketches prove Morrissey's commitment to real human diversity — not the shiny rainbow kind, but the sort that gives voice to irredeemable misfits, to mean people, to criminals. "Mountjoy" reflects on the history of one of Ireland's best-known prisons from the perspective of an anonymous prisoner who can "only cry when I see the sky." The equally devastating "Istanbul" captures the guilt-ridden voice of a father who has lost his son to gang violence. These portraits, like so many Morrissey has written, stay where it's painful, and in doing so are profoundly compassionate.
In middle age, Morrissey may feel the need for some compassion himself. "Oboe Concerto," the album's closing set piece, brilliantly blends pique at the human condition — the oboe in the lyrics (musically represented, eccentrically, by Boorer's clarinet and sax) represents unsettling thoughts, like a hated song "stuck in my head" — with a rueful awareness of mortality brought on by the recent loss of close friends. A feisty drum solo leads not to catharsis, but to Morrissey muttering, for half a minute, "round, round, rhythm of life goes round." He's not affirming anything. He's just being realistic, saying what has to be said. Fortaken:
By Alexis Petridis, The Guardian, Thursday 10 July 2014 14.59 BST; Score: ****
Just when you think human warmth is in short supply on Morrissey's new album, the old devil can still spring a surprise.
In 2011, Morrissey published a list of the 10 albums from his back catalogue "of which I am most proud". It offered what you might charitably describe as a unique interpretation of where Morrissey's career highlights lay. The Smiths releases on which his reputation is usually seen to rest were nowhere to be seen, nor was his acclaimed solo debut Viva Hate. His three most recent albums occupied the top three places, with the most recent of them all, 2009's Years of Refusal, in with a bullet at No 1.
Perhaps understandably, the list was greeted with a degree of bemusement. Some voices suggested Morrissey was once more trolling: here was a kind of discographical equivalent of his deliberately inflammatory stuff about how eating a fish finger is as bad as paedophilia. Three years on, however, the release of World Peace Is None of Your Business suggests he really meant it. In the absence of many memorable songs, the striking thing about Years of Refusal was its wilful sonic unpleasantness, as if his latterday backing band had decided to grasp the nettle of the criticisms leveled at them – largely unflattering comparisons of their hamfisted approach with the deftness and subtlety of the Smiths – by sounding as thuggish and ungainly as possible.
Dense and forbidding, World Peace Is None of Your Business amps up that approach even further. Gusts of electronic noise blow through the songs, a didgeridoo groans mournfully, the drumming is sometimes coated with a layer of fuzz and often collapses into lugubrious stamping, and the guitars seem to spend as much time clanking, humming and shrieking with feedback as they do being played; when they are, they're often distorted to the point at which they sound decayed. Grumbling noise and a cacophony of screams, feedback and atonal honking sax bookend even the most melodically beautiful track, the showtune-like I'm Not a Man, on which the singer explains at length that he doesn't conform to standard macho stereotypes. Clearly this is all going to come as a massive shock to anyone who was expecting Morrissey to turn up at the next Tough Mudder race dressed as the Incredible Hulk.
It's a better album than Years of Refusal partly because songs such as Smiler With Knife and Staircase at the University are melodically stronger – they don't sink under the sheer weight of their arrangements – and partly because it feels more spectacular and colourful than its oppressively grey predecessor. That may be down to Gustavo Manzur, a multi-instrumentalist who's replaced long-term collaborator Alain Whyte in Morrissey's backing band, bringing with him not merely the aforementioned digeridoo, but accordion, trumpet, flamenco guitar and presumably the saz-like instrument that twangs away during Istanbul. Whatever the reason, the whole thing sounds more tumultuous than trudging. Tumultuous enough, in fact, that you're occasionally struck by the rare sensation that you're listening to a Morrissey album on which Morrissey's presence isn't central to your enjoyment.
Lyrically, his genius flickers often enough to remind you how great he can be. There's a punch-in-the-stomach potency about Mountjoy – "What those in power do to you reminds us at a glance/ How humans hate each other's guts and show it given a chance" – while Kiss Me a Lot's "Kiss me all over my face /Kiss me all over the place" is pretty droll stuff. And if you fondly remember the Smiths as not merely a band, but a doorway that led you to discover literature and films, well, something similar happens on Neal Cassady Drops Dead. It wryly depicts Allen Ginsberg reacting to his former lover's passing not just with sadness but nostalgic lust ("Allen Ginsberg is hosed down in a barn … Allen Ginsberg's howl becomes a growl") which is pretty much exactly what happened, as anyone familiar with Ginsberg's vividly filthy poem On the Ashes of Neal Cassady will tell you.
Or at least, it does at first. The song's second half devolves into a rant apparently concerned with how much Morrissey hates children, who are depicted as little harbingers of disease ("Get that thing away from me"). It highlights one noticeable absence from World Peace Is None of Your Business: a distinct lack of the kind of empathy or insight that made the lyrics of November Spawned a Monster or Suffer Little Children such extraordinary pieces of writing. Its non-appearance is what separates Kick the Bride Down the Aisle from 1984's ostensibly similarly-themed William, It Was Really Nothing. The latter is a beautifully drawn vignette in which an unwise marriage symbolises the limitations of life in a humdrum town; the former is just a load of bile hurled at a woman, in keeping with the endless expressions of revulsion in Autobiography, further hampered by the fact that this time around, most of Morrissey's witticisms aren't witty: "Kick the bride down the aisle/ Look at that cow … in the field" can take its place alongside Earth Is the Loneliest Planet's "humans are not really very humane" and the groaning puns on Spanish names in The Bullfighter Dies.
In fairness, empathy isn't missing entirely – he manages to scare up some for the errant father seeking his vanished son in the fantastic Istanbul – but it's in desperately short supply, and when it turns up, it often seems to come out wrong, as if he doesn't really mean it. You can quarrel for ever about the wisdom of Morrissey instructing his fans not to vote on the title track, but what follows is inarguably trite and hollow. "Brazil and Bahrain/ Oh Egypt, Ukraine/ So many people in pain," he sings. It's tempting to imagine the widespread ridicule if, say, Jessie J or the guy out of Kasabian had come up with that.
But then he hits you with something like the closing Oboe Concerto, a brilliant, vivid rumination on mortality that genuinely deserves the adjective Larkinesque: "The older generation have tried, sighed and died/ Which pushes me to their place in the queue." It's the kind of thing that serves notice that, on a good day, Morrissey is still uniquely gifted. As with nearly every artist in rock history, nearly 35 years after his debut, the good days come around less frequently than they did, but it's still worth hanging around to witness them. Not as great as you might have hoped, but far better than you might have feared, a little more reliant on others than a man who ended his Autobiography claiming that "I have never had anything in my life that I did not make for myself" might care to admit, World Peace Is None of Your Business may be as good as it gets at this stage in his career, which is good enough.
Matthew Foster, July 14th, 2014 10:47
Viva Hate (1988)
Kill Uncle (1991)
Your Arsenal (1992)
Vauxhall And I (1994)
Southpaw Grammar (1995)
Maladjusted (1997)
You Are The Quarry (2004)
Ringleader Of The Tormentors (2006)
Years Of Refusal (2009)
World Peace Is None Of Your Business (2014)