It’s sort of a shame that Morrissey’s new album, his 10th as a solo artist and first in five years, trails a cloud of bad publicity. Halfway into his latest tour, he came down with a virus and began canceling dates. He made it to Boston for a superb show at the Opera House in early June, and then abruptly scrapped the entire rest of the tour. Morrissey played the blame game, claiming his opening act had gotten him sick. It got real ugly, real fast.
Then again, Morrissey, dating back to his days fronting the Smiths, wears notoriety like a badge of honor. And his latest release is a fearless collection of songs that double as astute social commentary. “World Peace Is None of Your Business” begins with a low rumble and tribal drums that suggest he’s about to wage war. In essence, that’s exactly what he does on this album, whose political spirit is grounded in the notion that music can and does make a
Morrissey runs the gamut of emotions here, sounding mad as hell (“Neal Cassady Drops Dead”), defiant (“I’m Not a Man”), and resigned (“Earth Is the Loneliest Planet”). The title track skewers human apathy and asserts we all just pay our taxes and never question what sort of heinous acts they’re funding. “Oh, you poor little fool,” he chides, later adding, “Each time you vote/ You support the process.”
It’s a reminder that no matter how badly you might think he behaves, Morrissey still does not mince words. And his music is vital because of it. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “World Peace Is None of Your Business”