He’s back! Yes, pop’s most famous misanthrope, Mr. Steven Patrick Morrissey of Salford, has a new record out today. It’s called World Peace Is None of Your Business, and it finds him in as cheery a mood as ever. The album’s songs address fun topics like suicide, murder, and, worst of all, marriage, in lyrics that are quintessential Moz from start to finish. If it’s all too much, though, well, here are the most Morrissey moments of the album, summarized in a convenient list!
“Each time you vote you support the process.” (“World Peace Is None of Your Business”)
The rest of the Spector-esque title track’s lyrics are kinda sixth-form ruminations on global politics (“Brazil and Bahrain/ Oh, Egypt, Ukraine/ So many people in pain” — I mean, come on), but there’s something perfect about his solution to the whole sorry business, the sort of solution you’d expect from a man who deals only in political absolutes: turn away entirely. Is he right that abstaining from the voting process completely is the best way to bring about change? Probably not, no. But try telling him that.
“Tike full of gripe/ Whippersnapper, scurvy/ Urchin made of acne/ Get that thing away from me.” (“Neal Cassady Drops Dead”)
Surprise: Morrissey hates children.
“I’d never kill or eat an animal/ And I never would destroy this planet I’m on/ Well, what do you think I am?/ A man?” (“I’m Not a Man”)
The majority of this song’s lyric reads like a less nuanced rewrite of Pulp’s “I’m a Man,” a song that addresses similar subject matter with more wit and compassion than Morrissey can summon these days. But these closing lines… well, they’re pretty much as Morrissey as one can get.
“And humans are not really very humane.” (“Earth Is the Loneliest Planet”)
Come on, Steven, you can do better than this.
“Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot/ Kiss me all over my face/ Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot/ Kiss me all over the place” (“Kiss Me a Lot”)
For all his misanthropy, our hero is, of course, an incurable romantic — I mean shit, we’re talking about the man who wrote “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” here. This song is World Peace Is None of Your Business‘ sole big, dumb, romantic moment, and it’s all the more welcome for it. (And, as ever, there’s more than a slight awkwardness to it all.)
“Hooray, hooray/ The bullfighter dies/ And nobody cries/ Nobody cries/ Because we all want the bull to survive” (“The Bullfighter Dies”)
Ernest Hemingway would beg to differ.
“She just wants a slave/ To break his back in pursuit of a living wage/ So that she can laze and graze/ For the rest of her days.” (“Kick the Bride Down the Aisle”)
One feature of Morrissey’s writing over the years is the way that his vitriol at times seems to completely erode any sense of subtlety or restraint. So it goes here — you wouldn’t expect him to harbor a positive view of the institution of marriage, but the gold digger/slattern stereotype here is clumsy at best and kinda offensive at worst. Either way, though, it’s very Morrissey.
“I was sent here by a three-foot halfwit in a wig/ I took his insults on the chin, and never did I flinch.” (“Mountjoy”)
This song (presumably) takes its name from Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison, and it features some of the best lyrics on the album. The best of the lot is this gem, wherein Morrissey’s narrator dismisses the judge who sent him to prison with the sort of gloriously acerbic kiss-off in which our hero still specializes (when he puts his mind to it, anyway).
“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.” (“Mountjoy”)
His sense of misanthropy isn’t exactly waning with age, either.
“The older generation have tried, sighed, and died/ Which pushes me to their place in the queue.” (“Oboe Concerto”)
And yet, and yet — at his best, Morrissey is still capable of writing some of the best song lyrics you’ll hear anywhere. This two-line meditation on aging and generational shifts is both succinct and genuinely moving, reflecting on the state of its author’s career and his life.