Morrissey Southpaw Grammar RCA Victor 74321299532

'Morrissey's muse is stretched to breaking point. There are only so many songs to be written about the fascination of feckless youth'
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The Independent Culture
Another label, another defunct record-company logo. This time, it's the hideous orange one familiar to glam fans of Bowie and Reed - though rarely has Morrissey so signally failed to live up to such comparisons. Put simply, his muse is stretched to breaking point here: there are only so many decent songs to be written about the fascination of feckless youth. "Dagenham Dave", frankly, isn't one of them. Worse still, two of the eight songs cruise soporifically past the 10-minute mark on a raft of bloated rock guitar, while another features that infallible stamp of heavy-rock redundancy, a drum solo. What's going on? Do Morrissey and RCA have their eyes set that firmly on America?

"The Teachers are Afraid of the Pupils" opens the album with distraught strings and gloomy rock ordinaire before Morrissey sets about belabouring an Aunt Sally target whose profession is humiliation. What next: "The Nurses are Afraid of the Patients"? About four minutes in, he concludes his attack with the line "To be finished would be a relief", but alas, not for another seven minutes, as guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte demonstrate their musical limits . The concluding "Southpaw", the other 10-minute piece, is even more hopelessly mired in psychedelia: 30 seconds of guitar effects before the song even shuffles to its feet, only then to wander distractedly towards the exit whilst producer Steve Lillywhite attempts to add a little interest with overdubbed marimba sounds.

In between come some of Morrissey's most generic songs yet: "The Boy Racer" voicing the jealous resentment of the dispossessed, a poor comparison with Pulp's "Joy Riders"; and "Everybody Hurts" and "Best Friend on the Payroll". "Do Your Best and Don't Worry" is the token heartwarmer. "Reader Meet Author", chastising someone for not being hard enough, is a clear case of a pot/kettle scenario of which, as Spinal Tap would say, there is none more black.