News Column

'Tuned In' review: Restless Morrissey still finds no peace

July 15, 2014

By Chuck Campbell, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.

July 15--Morrissey has been training to be a crotchety old man his entire life, and now that he's 55, he thinks he's there.

On the dreamy "Oboe Concerto," the closing track from his new album "World Peace Is None of Your Business," the sweet voiced/sour dispositioned U.K. singer drolly assumes the stereotypical role of the crabby cuss yelling at the neighbor kids for getting in his yard. Assuming his place in the "older" generation and grieving the death of good music, he complains, "There's a song I can't stand and it's stuck in my head."

He dispatches misogyny on "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle" ("Look at that cow in the field/It knows more than your bride does"), misanthropy on "I'm Not a Man" (claiming he's not a man because, "I never would destroy this planet") and fatalism in the jangle-drone of "Mountjoy" ("We never say aloud the things we say in prayers/Because no one cares").

Yep, it's the same moody Morrissey the world has been loving to hate and hating to love since he was the frontman for the Smiths 30 years ago.

He's also as hard to pigeonhole as ever. He's plainly not kidding on "The Bullfighter Dies" when he sings, "Hooray, hooray, the bullfighter dies/Nobody cries because we all want the bull to survive." But is he joking on the giddy subsequent track "Kiss Me a Lot" when he playfully sings, "Kiss me all over, and then when you've kissed me, kiss me all over again"?

As usual, Morrissey mines offbeat subjects for his lyrics, like his nostalgia for a bisexual Beat Generation icon on "Neal Cassady Drops Dead" and his tragic tale of a stressed-out college student on "Staircase at the University" whose father demands she makes three A's, and instead, "She threw herself down and her head split three ways." And improbably enough he's still a romantic, albeit usually a melancholy one, crooning on "Istanbul," "Give me back my brown-eyed son" and sadly noting, "Sex and love are not the same" in the alluring, low-slung ballad "Smiler With Knife."

Then there's the title track, a deceptively blissed-out-sounding Morrissey easing over the war-drum foundation and escalating tension as he demands conformity from the dullard masses and warns them not to question authority.

That's not the stuff of hit songs these days, and it's refreshing to hear it from such an articulate killjoy.

Rating: 4 stars (out of five)


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Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)

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