Morrissey has come a long way since his days with The Smiths. ‘This Charming Man’ has become a little, well… cranky. As an artist who is known for having an (often controversial) opinion on anything and everything, it’s not an entirely unexpected evolution.
Morrissey has never been one to shy away from political comment, but it becomes harder to take seriously when he comments on everything from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to British democracy in musical form, all from the comfort of his Hollywood mansion (naturally).
From Morrissey’s position as ‘the troll of music’, this album sits comfortably amongst the most bizarre of his musical offerings. But at times, it isn’t even good music. The opener ‘My Love, I’d Do Anything for You’ offers an abundance of feedback, jarring brass and ugly guitar, all accompanied by human screams and cries – just a sample of the inconsistent chaos to follow. To make matters worse, on second listening it becomes apparently obvious which songs are released as singles – the production on them is miles ahead of other tracks on the album. Tracks 1-5 are the most palatable to listen to. But take care from then on it gets… weird.
From controversial to downright nasty, ‘I Bury the Living’ offers a sneering condescension that is completely off-putting: at 7 minutes long, the song is a bitter diatribe against servicemen that is entirely devoid of all empathy. In Morrissey’s mind, ‘a hatred of all humanity’ is the only plausible reason to join the army, and this offering does little but tell the story of a soldier killed in action from a bitter perspective – even going to far as to mock his bereaved mother. Lyrically, it is often clunky – mostly owing to a disjointed melodic line and almost no linguistic grace.
There are however, moments of lyrical mastery; albeit brief lines sprinkled throughout the album.
Even Morrissey’s ballads have lost their appeal – a far cry the honest longing of ‘Asleep’ – and seem to border on stalker-like. When he sings ‘I just want my face in your lap’ or ‘will you wrap your legs around my head to greet me?’, the delivery is almost disturbing; more like the unwanted advances of a creepy old man than the blunt declaration of affection it may have been intended as.
From simply feeling a little disjointed, to songs that even beg the question as to why they made it onto the album in the first place; lack of coherency is this album’s ultimate downfall, and there appears to be no story or even theme to connect the songs. Unless you count his alternating comments on crotches/politics.
All views are views of the writer and not Quench’s or Cardiff Student Media’s.