Morrissey's World Peace is None of Your Business: "less snarl, more ambience"

World Peace is None of Your Business
    
Artist: Morrissey
Genre: Alternative
Label: Harvest Records

Left languishing in label limbo for several years, reduced to the ignominy of having to shop his songs around despite an assured place in the pantheon of indie icons . . . for a while, it seemed like another Morrissey album was a mere pipe dream for fans. Add last year's successful Autobiography (and an apparent gift for prose) to the mix, and 2009's Years of Refusal began to take on the distinct air of a swan song.

However, at the age of 55, Morrissey is far from ready to hang up his microphone. His 10th solo album is a commendably strong collection that pares back the full-bodied rock snarl of recent material for a more understated musical ambience.

There are several parallels to be drawn with his 1994 magnum opus, Vauxhall and I: the melodic Billy Budd-esque bounce of The Bullfighter Dies, the warm bass thrum of Istanbul, and the playful flourish of Spanish guitar on Earth Is the Loneliest Planet all temper the musical melancholia.

Heavy on swarthy croon and pointed lyrics, songs such as the sprawling eight-minute bluster of I'm Not a Man ("I'm not a man/I would never kill and eat an animal") and the clipped, woozy Bowie-esque guitar on Smiler With Knife are undoubted high-lights, asserting Morrissey's lyrical agenda with a glib poise.


There are some undoubted fillers amidst the killers: Staircase at the University is a trudge, while Kiss Me a Lot and Neal Cassady Drops Dead utilise dubious rhyming couplets – the latter shoehorns references to Allen Ginsberg alongside "babies", "rabies" and "scabies".

Incidentally, Ginsberg is not the only literary figure mentioned: Mountjoy nods to Morrissey's Irish roots, opining how "Brendan Behan's laughter rings for what he had or hadn't done."

World Peace Is None of Your Business may be less immediate than what came before, but it also might be the most consistent and multifaceted record of Morrissey's "comeback" era. Download: Istanbul, Smiler With Knife, Oboe Concerto

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times