This week, Morrissey released his tenth album, World Peace Is None of Your Business. As my colleague Tom Hawking already discussed, the album wouldn’t be complete without a bevy of oh-so-Moz lines, essentially whining with an Oscar Wilde flair. But Moz also proves that after 30 years as a lyricist, he still has some new tricks up his sleeve: namely, showing off how much he reads the World section of The Guardian.
As much as we poke fun at Morrissey’s lyrical and vocal styles, they’re distinct for a reason. With all due respect to guitarist Johnny Marr’s sonic contributions to The Smiths (though Morrissey would prefer otherwise), it’s Moz’s dark humor, suicidal poetry, and brutal frankness that have made his first band such a musical rite of passage for the last three decades.
When he went solo after his band’s 1987 dissolution, Morrissey lost a brilliant songwriting foil in Marr — the person who could match his words with the perfect riff. But he also grew up, started exploring lyrical topics outside of The Smiths’ wheelhouse, and at times, fully embraced his throwback crooner side. The result is a solo career that’s misunderstood and often under-appreciated, in part because of the global reverence heaped on The Smiths. Essentially, Morrissey’s struggle has been competing with his younger self. Let’s take a look back at the essential gems from Moz’s solo career — and of course, The Smiths’ brief but classic tenure — in this career-spanning playlist.