Morrissey - World Peace is None of Your Business
- Kirstyn Smith
- 8 July 2014
Despite mediocre recent releases, Morrissey's latest is a palpable punch in the jaw for doubters
To say the five years since Morrissey’s last studio album have been turbulent for him would be grotesque understatement. Beset by a shedful of woes – lack of record deal; near-constant illness; cancelled tours; a swathe of now-trademark controversial statements – his personal brand, although he would undoubtedly vomit at the phrase, has transformed into that of a man with zero fucks left to give. More worryingly, recent songs, bandied about on pre-2014 tours, have been satisfactory at best, mediocre at worst. It’s understandable that fans would be wary of new output.
World Peace is None of Your Business is a palpable punch in the jaw for doubters. The album takes up where 2009’s Years of Refusal left off, but with increased bombast, refocused verve. Don’t get too comfortable. WPiNoYB swings from content love song to disjointed misery: ‘Kiss Me a Lot’ – the happy, desperate plea of a man finally in love – is juxtaposed perfectly by following track ‘Smiler with Knife’, a schizophrenic summation of the album. Watch your back. Love = death.
Nothing is as it seems. Seemingly upbeat tunes mask dark stories – see ‘Staircase at the University’, whose disturbing imagery materialises out of the blue. ‘I’m Not a Man’ flirts with gender stereotypes, before revealing itself to be a mini ‘Meat is Murder’ in disguise. Meticulously crafted stories are brought to life: a staccato gunfire guitar or a haunting shriek of feedback are the soundtrack to his missives. ‘Istanbul’ – the tale of a father searching for his long-lost son in a foreign land – thrusts his renowned poeticals to centrestage. All the while, his faithful band provide a smooth foundation on which to build a layered but unobtrusive sound: this is the Morrissey show.
This is not to say there aren’t duds. Opener ‘World Peace is None of Your Business’ is tired, pseudo-political and better off as filler, plus ‘The Bullfighter Dies’ veers horrifying close to novelty track. But if Morrissey ever wanted to sound like classic solo Moz, he’s managed it here. Final track ‘Oboe Concerto’ is ‘Everyday is Like Sunday’ near-perfection, all moody, crescendo intro, dramatically rolled ‘r’s and hypnotic outro, an unsurprising end to a surprising, vital album.